Donald Patrick Murray was born on July 31, 1929 in
Hollywood, California. Don was the only child of Dennis Aloisius, a Broadway
dance director and stage manager, and Ethel Murray, a former Ziegfeld
performer. He attended East Rockaway High School in East Rockaway, New York
where he played football and was on the track team. Upon graduation from high
school, he went on to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After
graduating, he soon made his Broadway debut in the 1951 play “The Rose Tattoo”,
as Jake Hunter. After taking a three-year break from acting, in order to assist
orphans and war casualties during the Korean War, he returned to America in
1954 and resumed acting, by appearing alongside Mary Martin in the 1955 stage
version of “The Skin of Our Teeth”. Upon seeing his performance in the play,
director Joshua Logan decided to cast him in 20th Century Fox's film version of
“Bus Stop”. His performance as the innocent cowboy who is determined to get Cherie
was well received, and he was nominated for a BAFTA for Most Promising Newcomer
and for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
In 1957, he starred as reserved, married bookkeeper
Charlie Sampson in “The Bachelor Party”. The same year he starred in one of his
most successful roles in the drama “A Hatful of Rain”. He portrayed Johnny
Pope, a morphine addicted Korean War veteran. The film was one of the first to
show the effects of drug abuse on the addicted and those around him. Don
appeared in one Euro-western: “Kid Rodelo” (1965) with Janet Leigh and
He starred as a blackmailed United States senator in
“Advise & Consent” (1961), a film version of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel
by Allen Drury. He also co-starred with Steve McQueen in the film “Baby the
Rain Must Fall” (1965) and played the ape-hating Governor Breck in “Conquest of
the Planet of the Apes” (1972).
In addition to acting, Murray directed a film based on
the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” (1970) starring Pat Boone and Erik
Murray starred with Otis Young in the ground breaking ABC
western television series “The Outcasts” (1968–69) featuring an interracial
bounty hunter team in the post-Civil War West.
In 1979, he starred as Sid Fairgate on the long-running
prime-time soap opera ‘Knots Landing’. He also scripted two episodes of the
program in 1980. However, in 1981 Murray decided to leave the series after two
seasons to concentrate on other projects, although some sources say he left
over a salary dispute. Although he effectively distanced himself from the
series after that, Murray later contributed an interview segment for ‘Knots
Landing: Together Again’, a non-fiction reunion special made in 2005.
Don is scheduled to saddle up again in 2015’s western
film “The Hard Ride” directed by Thadd Turner.
Today we celebrate Don Murray’s 85th