Frederick Martin MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an American actor and singer who appeared in more than 100 films and a successful television series during a career that spanned nearly a half-century, from 1930 to the 1970s.
MacMurray, as a featured vocalist, recorded in 1930 with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra on "All I Want Is Just One Girl" on the Victor label and with George Olsen on "I'm In The Market For You" and "After a Million Dreams". Before signing with Paramount Pictures in 1934, he appeared on Broadway in Three's a Crowd (1930–31) and alongside Sydney Greenstreet and Bob Hope in Roberta (1933–34).
In the 1930s, MacMurray worked with film directors Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges, along with actors Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich and, in seven films, Claudette Colbert, beginning with The Gilded Lily (1935). He co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams (1935), with Joan Crawford in Above Suspicion (1943), and with Carole Lombard in four productions: Hands Across the Table (1935), The Princess Comes Across (1936), Swing High, Swing Low (1937), and True Confession (1937).
Despite being typecast as a "nice guy", MacMurray often said his best roles were when he was cast against type, such as under the direction of Billy Wilder and Edward Dmytryk. Perhaps his best known "bad guy" performance was in the role of Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who plots with a greedy wife Barbara Stanwyck to murder her husband in the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1944). In another turn in the "not so nice" category, MacMurray played the cynical, duplicitous Lieutenant Thomas Keefer in Dmytryk's 1954 film The Caine Mutiny. Six years later, MacMurray played Jeff Sheldrake, a two-timing corporate executive in Wilder's Oscar-winning romcom The Apartment, (1960) with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon.
In 1958, he guest-starred in the premiere episode of NBC's Cimarron City Western series, with George Montgomery and John Smith. MacMurray's career continued upward the following year, when he was cast as the father in the popular Disney Studios comedy, The Shaggy Dog. Then, from 1960 to 1972, he starred on television in My Three Sons, a long-running, highly rated series. Concurrent with My Three Sons, MacMurray stayed busy in films, starring as Professor Ned Brainard in Disney's The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and in the sequel Son of Flubber (1963).
Over the years, MacMurray became one of the wealthiest actors in the entertainment business, primarily from wise real estate investments and from his "notorious frugality". After the cancellation of My Three Sons in 1972, MacMurray made only a few more film appearances before retiring in 1978.
After suffering from leukemia for more than a decade, MacMurray died from pneumonia at age 83 in November 1991 in Santa Monica. His body was entombed in Holy Cross Cemetery. In 2005, his wife, June Haver, died aged 79 and her body was entombed with his.
MacMurray was most well-known to the average American for his role as the pipe smoking aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas on the TV series My Three Sons. Douglas was a widower who was raising three kids on his own.
Douglas smoked his pipe on camera throughout the series. Sitting on a bench in the downtown plaza on Sundays, reading the newspaper and smoking the pipe was one of the trademarks of his character. Between scenes he would sit in a chair, smoke his pipe and often be reading something which didn’t seem like much of a stretch from his TV character. A favorite tobacco blend of MacMurray was Kramer’s Father Dempsey which he was known to smoke regularly.
Things you may not have known about Fred MacMurray:
People also said that MacMurray still had the first nickel he ever made partly because he held both his glasses and pipe together with tape.
Around 1940, Fawcett Publishing wanted to come up with a superhero that could compete against Superman. Writer Bill Parker and artist C.C.Beck created the character of Captain Marvel. According to many sources Fred MacMurray served as the inspiration for how Marvel looked. "Captain Marvel himself was based on the actor Fred MacMurray, who was know to be a pretty down-to-earth guy." Beck later said.
Lucille Ball didn't enjoy working with Fred. "Fred MacMurray was a nice enough guy, she was later quoted as saying, "but a complete square to work with. I didn't think he was funny, and kept working with him on that telephone scene to his wef. He just couldn't get it. I guess I was wrong though. He waas on for 11 seasons with his own show. But not my kind of comedy."
More on Fred MacMurray :
- Fred MacMurray - Wikipedia
- Fred MacMurray Biography - Article
- Fred MacMurray - A Biography: By Charles Tranberg - Book
- Fred MacMurray Biography - IMDB
- MacMurray's Daughter Remembers Home