by Jean-Jacques Jelot-Blanc
French magazine, 1983 or 1984

A hero of some of the most well-known American television series in the world, Ben Murphy will have been handicapped for his entire life by an unhealthy shyness. A solitary and anxious man, this ill-at-ease actor rarely goes to Hollywood and is still waiting for the 'role of a life-time' to come his way.

en Murphy has never had top billing to himself. His name is linked to some of the legendary series on television, but it's a strange fact that Ben Murphy has very rarely played the lead role on the small screen. For example, even though the producers of 'Lottery' immediately thought of him for the role of Patrick Flaherty, the banker concerned with handing out the money to the winners, they also added Eric Rush (the actor Marshall Colt), an employee of the tax department, responsible for checking that the winners aren't cheating the State on their taxes.

The pair--for the time-being--have been sent everywhere in the USA, going through Colorado, Florida and Arkansas, where Ben Murphy was born on the 6th March 1942. To put it precisely, it was from Jonesboro that he set out one day, having made a firm decision to win a place in the Californian sunshine. However, despite an intelligent brain, a healthy body and natural charm, this student with a degree in political science suffers from pathological shyness. His friends from university remember him as someone who wasn't very sociable. However in 1967, he linked his destiny to Universal Studios with an eleven year contract. He would find fame and fortune here, but not as a solo star.

Going it alone

"From my first television appearance in 'The Name of the Game', I was just one of the newspaper reporters, who mixed with the starring trio of the series (Gene Barry, Robert Stack, Tony Franciosa). In 1971, as a reformed outlaw in 'Alias Smith and Jones', I was in partnerhsip with Peter Duel. What's more, we were constantly under the scrutiny of a permanently present sheriff. When finally in 1976, I found myself alone on the screen, the star of the 'Gemini Man', it was a considerable disappointment.... I was invisible."

This ability, an irritating one for an actor, brought him fame nevertheless. The public loved the 13 episodes of this 'new invisible man', a series was liberally inspired by H.G.Wells' novel, where he plays the role of the special agent Sam Casey, a victim of a nuclear explosion, in which the radiation alters the molecular sturcture of his body to render him completely invisible. But the glory, just like the biological transformation of his body is of short duration; he is forgotten again just as quickly as he was discovered. For ten years, he doesn't appear in anything other than a few minor televison films. Two mini-series, "The Chisholms", where he plays the role of a western pioneer and "The Winds of War, where he portrays the oldest son of Robert Mitchum follow.

Piqued by all this, it is on the tennis court that he enjoys the solo role that has always been refused him on the stage. There, alone against his opponent, he handles a racket like a real professional. Finally... he is the best, he is admired.

"These days, I recognise that it's my shyness which spoilt everything. In order to get over this, I've had a long course of therapy. Since that, I've been able to handle the problem better. Previously, because I lacked confidence, I was often literally terrified when I auditioned in front of certain producers." Moreover, it was in order to exorcise this fearful panic that he agreed to portray some of the proudest heroes of the Wild West on the television, people like Wild Bill Hickock or Kit Carson! It is also why he chose to audition for "The A Team". At the time he had only one aim; to drown himself in the anonymity of this crack team, this batallion of soldiers, who are proud of remaining heroes, even though the war is over. But for this role, they chose Dirk Benedict instead of him.

Just like John Wayne, whom he admires, he much prefers the wind on the plains and the thick grass of the praires to the parties of the cinema capital. Just like famous Lucky Luke sings at the end of each of his stories, "I'm a poor lonesome cowboy" ("Je ne suis qu'un cavalier solitaire")! Perhaps it's for that reason that he's been celibate for so long (he's a divorcee) and all of Hollywood avoid him like the plague. The bad-mouthers affirm that this particular solitary person carries a jinx...

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