Nationality: American. Born: Evanston, Illinois, 21 September 1950. Family: Married 1) Mickey Kelly, 1981 (divorced 1994), sons: Homer and Luke; 2) Jennifer Butler, 1997, two sons. Education: Attended Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, and Regis College, Denver, as a premed student. Career: Acted in plays in high school and worked summers as caddy; after droppping out of college joined his brother Brian Doyle-Murray in the Chicago improv troupe Second City, winning a scholarship to its workshop, and then traveling with its road company; appeared on radio in The National Lampoon Radio Hour ; 1975—in off-Broadway revue The National Lampoon Show ; 1976—on Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell ; 1977—gained fame on Saturday Night Live in its second season; 1996—played Geppetto in TV series Stories from My Childhood . Agent: Jay Moloney, Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.
Films as Actor:
Shame of the Jungle (Picha and Szulzinger) (as voice)
Things We Did Last Summer (Weis)
All You Need Is Cash ( The Rutles ) (Idle and Weis—for TV) (as Bill Murray the K)
Meatballs (Reitman) (as Tripper); Mr. Mike's Mondo Video (O'Donoghue); The Main Event (Zieff) (as Mantilla's cornerman)
Where the Buffalo Roam (Linson) (as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson); Caddyshack (Ramis) (as Carl Spackler); Loose Shoes (Ira Miller) (as Lefty Schwartz)
Stripes (Reitman) (as John Winger)
Tootsie (Pollack) (as Jeff Slater, unbilled)
Nothing Lasts Forever (Schiller) (as Lunar Cruise Director Ted Breughel); Ghostbusters (Reitman) (as Dr. Peter Venkman); The Razor's Edge (Byrum) (as Larry Darrell, + co-sc)
Little Shop of Horrors (Oz) (as Arthur Denton)
Scrooged (Richard Donner) (as Frank Cross); She's Having a Baby (John Hughes) (cameo, uncredited)
Ghostbusters II (Reitman) (as Dr. Peter Venkman)
What about Bob? (Oz) (as Bob Wiley)
Groundhog Day (Ramis) (as Phil Connors); Mad Dog and Glory (McNaughton) (as Frank Milo)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton) (as Bunny Breckinridge)
Kingpin ; Space Jam (Kahn, Pytka, and Bruce Smith); Larger than Life (Franklin) (as Jack Corcoran)
The Man Who Knew Too Little (Amiel) (as Wallace Ritchie)
With Friends Like These (Messina) (as Maurice Melnick); Rushmore (Anderson) (as Herman Blume); Wild Things (McNaughton) (as Ken Bowden)
Cradle Will Rock (Robbins) (as Tommy Crickshaw); Scout's Honor (Leifer) (as Jack Vardell); Company Man (Askin, McGrath)
Michael Jordan to the Max (Kempf and James D. Stern) (as himself)
Film as Director:
Quick Change (co-d with Howard Franklin) (+ ro as Grimm, co-pr)
By MURRAY: book—
Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf , New York, 1999.
By MURRAY: articles—
Interview with Timothy Crouse, in Rolling Stone (New York), 16 August 1984.
Interview with Elisa Leonelli, in Venice Magazine , 16 March 1993.
On MURRAY: articles—
Grossberger, Lewis, "Bill Murray Making It Up as He Goes," in Rolling Stone (New York), 20 August 1981.
Blount, Roy Jr., "Have You Heard the One about Bill Murray and the Himalayan Women?," in GQ (New York), November 1984.
Chase, Chris, "Bill Murray: More than Just a Funnyman," in Cosmopolitan , December 1984.
Current Biography 1985 , New York, 1985.
White, Timothy, "The Rumpled Anarchy of Bill Murray," in New York Times Magazine , 20 November 1988.
Connelly, Christopher, "The Man You Are Looking for Is Not There," in Premiere (New York), August 1990.
Corliss, Richard, "Bill Murray in the Driver's Seat," in Time (New York), 8 March 1993.
Adler, J. and Sawhill, R.,"A Groundhog Has His Day," in Newsweek , 8 March 1993.
James, C., "Film View: Bull Murray Takes on De Niro and a Groundhog," in The New York Times , 14 March 1993.
Meyers, Kate, "Triumph of the Bill," in Entertainment Weekly , 19 March 1993.
Solman, Gregory, "The Passion of Bill Murray," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1993.
Radio Times (London), 19 October 1996.
Atkinson, M., "Bill Murray in 'The Razor's Edge'," in Movieline (Escondido), June 1997.
* * *
Like the original cast members of Saturday Night Live , whom he joined in 1977, Bill Murray developed his routines in response to the irradiating phoniness of post-World War II suburban culture. The Not Ready for Prime Time Players were expert at parodying the voice of both sententious and commercial fraudulence—the gelatinous precepts learned in home, school, and church (and in the homes, schools, and churches on television and in the movies), the nearly hysterical pitches of television advertising, the oiliness of show biz "intimacy." John Belushi flared out fast, while Dan Aykroyd was too manic a parodist for the big screen, and Chevy Chase quickly became another self-satisfied purveyor of low-grade product. Only Murray was able to broaden his counterculture cabaret attitude enough to be a popular movie comedian without becoming smug or another example of what he professed to despise. In the service comedy Stripes he took nothing seriously and still galvanized that scrappy production. In Stripes and the much more expensive Ghostbusters he used the concepts of the movies to goof on the movies themselves, without killing joy. He did his duty by Ghostbusters without getting implicated in the jumbo Hollywood machinations that engineered it.
He served the same function in Tootsie as Dustin Hoffman's roommate, in which his hilarious deadpan (and reportedly improvised) comments on Hoffman's scam turned the audience's disbelief to the movie's advantage. At the time he seemed oddly cast as an incorruptible, experimental playwright, but this does in fact tie in to Murray's deeper concerns, which for a while he had trouble bringing to the screen. The head-on approach produced The Razor's Edge , which Murray tried to enliven and make personal by anachronistic wisecracking in the role of the man shaken to his spiritual foundations. Murray's 1970s shtick was out of place, and he did not know how to animate Larry Darrell otherwise. But the main problem was that he seemed intellectually susceptible to a middle-brow epic like Maugham's novel in the first place; wanting to be profound he just got portentous.
Murray did come across in a slapstick turn in character (that is, a character other than his own put-on persona) in the nifty musical Little Shop of Horrors , but it was not until his breakthrough performance as Frank Cross in Scrooged that he found a way to play a fuller character in the kind of comedy that audiences wanted to see him in. He deepened his screen persona not by going around it but by going through it. Murray used this updated Christmas Carol to stage his career redemption—he learned how to play the emotional scenes straight without betraying his 1970s rejection of show biz fakery. He went even further as the burnt-out weatherman Phil Connors in Groundhog Day , allegorically doomed to replay his least favorite day of the year forever. Frank Cross is a hyperbolic monster; Phil's disgust with himself seems more life-sized, and it makes personal sense for Murray to play a man who has been drained of life in front of rather than behind the camera. Groundhog Day is, if anything, too enjoyable for the good of its reputation. Murray is not just good as the jaded television-caster, he is phenomenal. He knows in his bones how to show us what it is like to be encased in a media image, how remote your own and other people's responses become. Murray uses the disruption of Phil's routine to flip his own professional lid and to show us the emotional springs of his comedy, exactly what he always protected with comic cynicism. His performance in Mad Dog and Glory as the ruthless loan shark who wants to be a stand-up comic combines the scary and funny elements of Phil's remoteness. Murray convincingly integrates the stand-up comic's aggression as part of the gangster's hovering threat, but the script never comes together, and once again De Niro kills a teaming by his own kind of remoteness as an actor. But by drilling down to genuine sources of comic redemption in Scrooged , Ghostbuster II , Quick Change , and Groundhog Day , Murray has fulfilled a promise we never expected him to make.