Audie Murphy

Audie Murphy in 1945Born Audie Leon Murphy on June 20, 1925, he was the seventh of twelve children. He grew up on a farm, share cropping, near Kingston, Texas. His father abandoned the family and his mother died when he was 16 leaving him an orphan.

During World War II at age 17, his sister helped him falsify documents about his age so he could joined the Army because the Marine Corp turned him down for being underweight. During his three years at war he earned anywhere from 24 to 33 decorations (no two sources agreed on this), becoming the most decorated American combat veteran of World War II. Earning most of his metals by the age of 20, he didn’t know until the Army announced it at a surprise banquet when he returned home.

Among his decorations were the Metal of Honor—for single-handedly standing off six German tanks and 250 infantrymen; two Silver Stars; a Bronze Star; three Purple hearts—shrapnel in both knees and a sniper’s bullet in his hip; the Distinguished Service Cross and the Legion of Merit. The governments of France and Belgium also awarded him decorations for bravery.

Actor James Cagney saw Murphy’s photo on the cover of Life magazine. He invited the 21-year-old Texan to Hollywood to get his start in acting. Cagney paid for his acting and dancing lessons.

Hollywood, like war, was hell for Murphy. His first roles were few. He was used mostly for publicity and not his acting abilities. He stated in his autobiography that it ended his marriage to actress, Wanda Hendrix.

He is best known for “To Hell and Back”—his autobiography—which set a box office record that wasn’t broken until the release of “Jaws” twenty years later, “Red Badge of Courage,” and “The Quiet American.” He found more success in the B Westerns because of his soft spoken Texas accent. My personal favorite, “The Guns of Fort Petticoat.”

In 1951 he married second wife, Pamela Opal Lee Archer. They had two sons.

He earned moderate success as a county music songwriter with artists like Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Roy Clark, and Charley Pride recording his work.

As Tom Smith in TV's Whispering Smith

As Tom Smith in TV’s Whispering Smith

By 1960 he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In 1962 when the studio system dropped their roster of contract players for hired actors on a per-picture basis, Murphy’s acting career fell into obscurity.

Possessing a hair-trigger temper and sleeping with a loaded gun, Murphy suffered from combat fatigue, now referred to as PTSD.

He campaigned the government for more time and money to care for returning Korean and Vietnam War veterans. He knew first hand what kinds of problems they would face.

In an interview regarding his work for returning veterans, Murphy said, “After the war, they took Army dogs and rehabilitated them for civilian life. But they turned soldiers into civilians immediately, and let ’em sink or swim.”

Two years after his death the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio was dedicated.

He died May 28, 1971 in a plane crash on Brushy Mountain in Virginia. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, where the year of his birth is listed as 1924. According to cemetery records, the only grave site visited by more people than Murphy’s is JFK’s.

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About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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19 Responses to Audie Murphy

  1. Dave says:

    Awesome awesome awesome! I’m a big fan of Audie Murphy – so much so that I actually overlooked just how funny his name is! 🙂

  2. wdydfae says:

    Nicely done. I may have heard the name but all the details are new to me!

  3. amb says:

    I’m always surprised by your posts and it’s always in the best way! This was wonderful, Fannie 🙂

  4. Dads talk about Audie Murphy…

    If you were a little boy in the fifties, and on…’He were a real hero, not just a film star…’ which to kids watching a screen was significant.

  5. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:
    If you’ve never met Audie Murphy, you might want to meet him. This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names.

  6. pmahaney says:

    Love his named, and loved the man even more, especially for the attention he brought to those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

  7. The State of Texas is soon (hopefully) to honor Audie Murphy with the state’s supreme military honor, albeit posthumously…the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor. I was the person that had Murphy nominated for this award. It has passed both chambers of the Texas legislature and now awaits the signature of Governor Perry. By law the governor has until 23 August to either sign or veto the award. If signed by the Governor the award will be presented to his sole surviving sibling at a later date.
    In addition, I am the administrator of the Audie Murphy Presidential Medal of Freedom campaign. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded by the President to those who have made significant contributions to peace or other significant cultural contributions to America. This award nomination will be in recognition of his work as a pioneer in PTSD awareness. The nomination will be soon be submitted to the White House. If anyone would like to sign the petition, I encourage all to do so as the petition is soon to close. To view and image slideshow complete with patriotic music of the many distinguished politicians, generals, moonwalkers, medal of honor recipients and celebrities who have endorsed the campaign and how you can sign please click here:

    Thank you!

    Dave

  8. Audie was also known by other names including “Murph”, “Baby” and “Little Britches”. “Murph” was a short name that was used during the war. “Baby” was a nickname he earned during basic training. He was so small and frail, he was apparently teased a lot by the drill sergeants. Audie was also called “Little Britches” in grade school (he dropped out of school in the 8th grade) because he only had one pair of overalls which his mom washed every night. The pants shrank and Audie grew resulting in a name that was the source of many playground fights.

  9. Liz says:

    Wow–love all I learn here. Nice job, Tracy 🙂 Looks like you absolutely struck a chord with folks. Feeling like I should stand up and salute. Well done, friend. Hope you’re collecting all of your BoFN posts so you can compile a publication of some sorts when folks are clamoring for more of what you’ve written.

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