Categories: Hunt County, Texas | United States Army, World War II | US Military Heroes | Medal of Honor | Légion d'honneur | Distinguished Service Cross (United States) | Silver Star Medal | Bronze Star Medal | Croix de guerre 1939-1945 | Purple Heart | Wounded in Action, United States of America, World War II | Poets | Actors | Hollywood Actors | Recording Artists | Examples | Profile of the Week Winners.
The son of poor Texas sharecroppers, Audie Murphy became a national hero during World War II as the most decorated combat soldier of the war. Among his 33 awards was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more.
Murphy had tried to enlist in the army in his native Texas, but was rejected because he was too young. With his sister Corinne's help, he falsified his age to appear to be old enough, tried again and was accepted this time. After undergoing basic military training, he was sent to Europe, where he fought in nine major campaigns over three years and rose from the rank of private to a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant. Part of Murphy's appeal to many people was that he didn't fit the "image" most had of a war hero. He was a slight, almost fragile-looking, shy and soft-spoken young man, whose boyish appearance (something he never lost throughout his life; he always looked at least 15 years younger than he actually was) often shocked people when they found out that, for example, during one battle he leaped on top of a burning tank--which was loaded with fuel and ammunition and could have exploded at any second--and used its machine gun to hold off waves of attacking German troops, killing dozens of them and saving his unit from certain destruction and the entire line from being overrun. In September 1945 Murphy was released from active duty and assigned to inactive status. His story caught the interest of superstar James Cagney, who invited Murphy to Hollywood. Cagney Productions paid for acting and dancing lessons but was reluctantly forced to admit that Murphy--at least at that point in his career--didn't have what it took to become a movie star. For the next several years he struggled to make it as an actor, but jobs were few, specifically just two bit parts, in Beyond Glory (1948) and Texas, Brooklyn & Heaven (1948). He finally got a lead role in Bad Boy (1949), and starred in the trouble-plagued production of MGM's The Red Badge of Courage (1951), directed by John Huston. While this film is now considered a minor classic, the politics behind the production sparked an irreparable fissure within the ranks of the studio's upper management. Murphy proved adequate as an actor, but the film, with virtually no female presence (or appeal), bombed badly at the box office. Murphy, however, had already signed with Universal-International Pictures, which was putting him in a string of modestly budgeted Westerns, a genre that suited his easygoing image and Texas drawl. He starred in the film version of his autobiography, To Hell and Back (1955), which was a huge hit, setting a box-office record for Universal that wasn't broken for 20 years it was finally surpassed by Jaws (1975)). One of his better pictures was Night Passage (1957), a Western in which he played the kid brother of James Stewart. He worked for Huston again on The Unforgiven (1960). Meanwhile, the studio system that Murphy grew into as an actor crumbled. Universal's new owners, MCA, dumped its "International" tag in 1962 and turned the studio's focus toward the more lucrative television industry. For theatrical productions, it dropped its roster of contract players and hired actors on a per-picture basis only. That cheap Westerns on the big screen were becoming a thing of the past bode no good for Murphy, either. The Texican (1966), his lone attempt at a new, European form of inexpensive horse opera, to be known as the Spaghetti Western, was unsuccessful. His star was falling fast.
In addition to his acting career--he made a total of 44 films--Murphy was also a successful rancher and businessman. He bred and raised thoroughbred horses and owned several ranches in Texas, Arizona and California. He was also a songwriter, and penned hits for such singers as Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride and many others.
His postwar life wasn't all roses, however. He suffered from what is now called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but was then called "combat fatigue", and was known to have a hair-trigger temper. He woke up screaming at night and slept with a loaded .45 automatic nearby. He was acquitted of attempted murder charges brought about by injuries he inflicted on a man in a bar fight. Director Don Siegel said in an interview that Murphy often carried a pistol on the set of The Gun Runners (1958) and many of the cast and crew were afraid of him.
Murphy married actress Wanda Hendrix in 1949.  They had no children. Their divorce became final two years later in 1951.
Four days after his divorce , he married former airline stewardess Pamela Opal Lee Archer (October 7, 1923 - April 8, 2010), with whom he had two sons:
In the 1960s his increasing bouts of insomnia and depression resulted in his becoming addicted to a particularly powerful sleeping pill called Placidyl, an addiction he eventually broke. He ran into a streak of bad financial luck and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1968. Admirably, he campaigned vigorously for the government to spend more time and money on taking care of returning Vietnam War veterans, as he more than most others knew exactly what kinds of problems they were going to have.
On May 18, 1971, Murphy was aboard a private plane on his way to a business meeting when it ran into thick fog near Roanoke, VA, and crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all six aboard. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. According to cemetery records, the only grave site visited by more people than Murphy's is that of assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
THE CROSSES GROW ON ANZIO
Oh, gather 'round me, comrades; and
listen while I speak
Of a war, a war, a war where hell is
six feet deep.
Along the shore, the cannons roar. Oh
how can a soldier sleep?
The going's slow on Anzio. And hell is
six feet deep.
Praise be to God for this captured sod that
rich with blood does seep.
With yours and mine, like butchered
swine's; and hell is six feet deep.
That death awaits there's no debate;
no triumph will we reap.
The crosses grow on Anzio, where hell is
six feet deep.
-- Audie Murphy, 1948
ALONE AND FAR REMOVED
Alone and far removed from earthly care
The noble ruins of men lie buried here.
You were strong men, good men
Endowed with youth and much the will to live.
I hear no protest from the mute lips of the dead.
They rest: there is no more to give.
So long my comrades,
Sleep ye where you fell upon the field.
But tread softly please
March O'er my heart with ease.
March on and on,
But to God alone we kneel.
-- Audie Murphy, late 1940's
FREEDOM FLIES IN YOUR HEART LIKE AN EAGLE
Dusty old helmet, rusty old gun,
They sit in the corner and wait.
Two souvenirs of the Second World War
That have witnessed the time and the hate.
Mute witness to a time of much trouble
Where kill or be killed was the law.
Were these implements used with high honor?
What was the glory they saw?
Many times I've wanted to ask them...
And now that we're here, all alone,
Relics all three of that long ago war. . .
Where has freedom gone?
Freedom flies in your heart like an eagle.
Let it soar with the winds high above
Among the Spirits of soldiers now sleeping.
Guard with care and with love.
I salute my old friends in the corner.
I agree with all they have said . . .
And if the moment of truth comes tomorrow,
I'll be free, or by God, I'll be dead!
-- Audie Murphy, 1968
He appeared in 44 films throughout his career. During the 1950s and 1960s, he was cast primarily in Westerns. Murphy helped publicize his 1949 World War II memoir To Hell and Back with a radio appearance on This Is Your Life. In 1955, he played himself in the film To Hell and Back which became the biggest hit in the history of Universal Studios at the time. He performed in a handful of television productions, and was the star of the Whispering Smith series.
Country Music Songwriter
Murphy saw some success as a country music songwriter. He teamed up with musicians and composers Guy Mitchell, Jimmy Bryant, Scott Turner, Coy Ziegler, Ray and Terri Eddlemon. His songs were recorded and released by Dean Martin, Eddy Arnold, Charley Pride, Jimmy Bryant, Porter Waggoner, Jerry Wallace, Roy Clark, and Harry Nilsson. His two biggest hits were "Shutters and Boards" and "When the Wind Blows in Chicago". He and his co-writers produced seventeen songs:
"Shutters and Boards", "When the Wind Blows in Chicago", "Please Mr. Music Man Play a Song for Me", "Foolish Clock", "Leave the Weeping to the Willow Tree", "The Only Light I Ever Need is You", "Go On and Break My Heart", "Willie the Hummer", "My Lonesome Room", "If There is a Short Cut to Nowhere (I'll Take It)", "Pedro's Guitar", "Big, Big Day Tomorrow", "Elena, Goodbye", "Round and Round She Goes", "Rattle Dance", "Dusty Old Helmet", "Was It All Worth Losing You"Honors and Awards
Murphy received every U.S. military award for valor available from the U.S. Army during his period of service. For his war-time service, he received recognitions by both France and Belgium. He was also the recipient of civilian honors both during his lifetime and posthumously, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star (2), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star (2) (1 "V"), Purple Heart (3), Good Conduct, Presidential Unit Citation (2), American Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, WWII Victory, Army of Occupation w/Germany clasp, French Legion of Honor, French Croix de Guerre (3), Belgian Croix de Guerre, Combat Infantryman Badge, Marksman Badge with Rifle Component Bar, Expert Badge with Bayonet Component Bar, Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
 I can't ever remember being young in my life.
I never liked being called the "most decorated" soldier. There were so many guys who should have gotten medals and never did--guys who were killed.
[fellow US Army officer about Murphy] Don't let that baby face fool you, that's the toughest soldier in the Third Division.
[on his acting career] I'm working under a great handicap . . . no talent.
[of his role as himself in To Hell and Back (1955)] I don't think I'm the type. Maybe Tony Curtis would do.
[Bill Mauldin about Murphy] In him, we all recognized the straight, raw stuff, uncut and fiery as the day it left the still. Nobody wanted to be in his shoes, but nobody wanted to be unlike him, either.
[on turning 40] I guess my face is still the same, and so is the dialogue. Only the horses were changed.
I's strong. I'm too tough for this town [Hollywood]. I won't let it break my heart. I won't let it break me. I'll fight it to the finish. I just wish it was a fight I knew how to fight.
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