“I guess I am one of those rare exceptions because I had not planned on becoming an actress and never desired to be in motion pictures.” ~ Mary Murphy
Mary Murphy was an American film actress of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The beautiful blue-eyed Murphy was born on January 26, 1931, in Washington D.C. and spent most of her early childhood in Cleveland, Ohio. Her father, James Victor Murphy, died in 1940. Shortly afterwards, she and her mother moved to Southern California. Murphy went on to attend University High School in the Los Angeles area, graduating in 1949. In 1951 she had a job wrapping packages at Saks Fifth Avenue department store in Beverly Hills when she was ‘discovered’ by a talent scout for Paramount, who signed her to a contract. Murphy stayed busy with in such movies such as the Bob Hope’s vehicles “The Lemon Drop Kid” (1951) and “My Favorite Spy” (1951), the sci-fi feature “When Worlds Collide” (1951), “Carrie” (1952), and “Houdini” (1953). Most of her roles were secondary bit parts, many of them uncredited. In 1953 Murphy won the female lead opposite relative newcomer Tommy Morton in the show business drama “Main Street to Broadway”. Both stars were somewhat dwarfed by the huge names, Tallulah Bankhead, Lionel Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Shirley Booth, and Mary Martin, who co-starred with them and the film was not well received. Her next lead as a good hearted girl who tries to reform Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” (1953), was much more successful. Murphy more than held her own opposite Brando in the classic movie and drew great reviews. Unfortunately, this did not lead to huge stardom and bigger and better roles.
After “The Wild One”, Murphy did go on to give a good show of herself in movies such as “The Mad Magician” (1954), “Sitting Bull” (1954), “Beachhead” (1954) opposite Tony Curtis, “A Man Alone” (1955) and “Hell’s Island” (1955) with John Payne. Murphy also shone as Fredric March’s daughter in the thriller “The Desperate Hours” (1955) which also starred Humphrey Bogart and Martha Scott. After “The Desperate Hours”, her film career began to decline with roles in lesser movies such as “The Maverick Queen” (1956), “The Electronic Monster” (1958) and “Live Fast, Die Young” (1958), a lowbudget “Wild Ones”. After a leading role in “Crime & Punishment, USA” (1959) Murphy was absent from the big screen before appearing with Steve McQueen in the Sam Peckinpah film “Junior Bonner” in 1972.
When her film career began to wane in the mid to late 1950’s, Murphy turned to television. Over the next twenty years she stayed busy appearing in television series such as; “Wagon Train”, “The Detectives”, “The Tab Hunter Show”, “The Westerner”, “Perry Mason”, “I Spy”, “The Outer Limits”, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, and “Ironside” just to name a few. Her last appearance was in the television movie “Katherine” in 1975.
Mary Murphy was married twice. The first marriage was to actor Dale Robertson in June 1956. The marriage was short lived as it was annulled by Christmas of the same year.
In 1962 she married Alan Specht, a Los Angeles lighting fixture retailer. The union resulted in one child, a daughter. The couple divorced in 1967.
Mary Murphy died from heart failure on May 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. She was 80 years old.