"I'd accumulated more credits in poli sci and it was recommended to me that I take my degree in it," the handsome young man explained honestly over lunch in Hollywood recently.
Murphy doesn't mind admitting that it took him six years and eight colleges before he earned his bachelor's degree. The years took him from his Illinois home out to the West Coast and until he he wound up at the famed Pasadena Playhouse, "It hadn't occurred to me I might become an actor. I guess I just kept fleeing the snow now that I think back on it."
It sounds rather aimless and the new star of ABC-TV's Alias Smith and Jones wouldn't deny it. Contrary to the public posture of most of the current young actors, he avoids involvement in causes, flossy statements on the world and U.S. problems and even says "Violence upsets me so I try to go around it."
His lengthy college career apparently drove his mother to some form of despair for Murphy says, "I hadn't any idea what I wanted to do. My mother kept screaming at me, 'What are you going to do with your life?' And I really just didn't know."
But once at the California theatre school, the youth found his niche. By the time he arrived, the playhouse was in its dying stages which turned out to be, he insists, "fortunate for me because I got to do everything right away, working around the clock." Pasadena Playhouse's demise elicits no sentimental tears from Murphy and instead, he unobtrusively slipped in a sage statement. "All good things come to an end to make room for the new."
The actor, who is "Jed Curry" on the comedy Western series, went quickly into a stock company in Sun Valley, Idaho, where the players did a show a week for 10 weeks. He left behind his work in "Barefoot in the Park" and "Mary, Mary" to make his first film, "Yours, Mine and Ours."
But Murphy does not scorn stock work--another point on which he differs from most of his confreres. "I would love to go back and do more," he said.
The young man is almost half way through the traditional seven-year contract at Universal which began him as one of the supporting cast in the Name of the Game series.
"I have no complaints about the long tie-up," he said. "I made my decision on my own." Many of his group would be begging for deliverance at the same point. Generally, he has no opinions one way or the other about the studio system reagarding [sic] young actors. "Some are better off with it," he ventured.
Involved is used chiefly in his vocabulary when talking about his profession. "I want to become involved at every level," offered Murphy, adding that he is working on scripts for next season while worrying about renewal. "No, I haven't talked to Roy Huggins (the producer who also helps on story ideas and rewriting.) But he's an intelligent man, not stupid like some producers. I have excellent rapport with him. So one day I'll just give a script to him."
"No egos are involved" as yet on the Alias Smith and Jones set, despite the fact that Murphy and Pete Duel, who stars as the other criminal trying to go straight, used to compete for the same roles.
"He'd get them," Murphy reported, "because he'd had more experience." But the two have developed into separate entities in the series. "Pete's quiet and aloof and I'm more impulsive. He gets into trouble and I get the women."
Perhaps he hasn't reached the stage yet where it annoys him to hear constantly that he looks like Paul Newman. Or it may just be another point in his favor as a modest man apart from his breed.
Actually, Murphy doesn't think he resembles Newman except "when I have my hat on and my forehead is covered up." (Editor's Note: Not true. Murphy and Newman are very close in looks, including the older star's trademark--brilliant blue eyes.)
His dislike of cold weather is intense
enough to keep him from visiting both his mother in Chicago and
his aunt who lives in Utica. "I tell them they have to come
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