He might be serious, too, because he's not the least bit shy about assigning his highest personal priority to the sport, one of Hollywood's most "in" activities.
"I love acting," he says, "but if you ask me what my real passion is, I'd have to say tennis. I try to play three hours a day, even in the hot-test weather."
He's also a dedicated jogger. He lives on the beach at Malibu, and rises every morning at six for a three-mile stint along the ocean.
"You meet some terrific people jogging at that hour of the morning," he notes. Among the friends he's made running on the sand are Dustin Hoffman and Ryan O'Neal, whom he resembles.
He's not exactly a conformist, which is why he enjoys his role as "The Gemini Man," which is about a secret agent who can disappear.
"The part of Sam Casey I can really identify with," says Murphy, 28. [CJC's Note: He was 34, not 28.] "He is an outgoing, amusing kind of rebel. He's not about to wear dark business suits."
Murphy's first TV series, "Alias Smith and Jones," was widely regarded as nothing more than a studio attempt to cash in on the success of the movie "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Murphy is reported to have been chosen because he looked so much like "Butch"-- Paul Newman, which doesn't bother him a bit.
"Paul Newman's not a bad person to resemble," he says.
He was also seen in "The Name of theGame" and "Griff -- but not in quite the entirety that he was seen last year, when he appeared in a nude layout for the famous Playgirl magazine [CJC's Note: It was Viva magazine, not Playgirl].
He dates an airline stewardess named Jeanne Davis, but so far she has been unable to bring him in for a landing.
"This is a serious romance and we both want to be very sure before making it legal," he says.
Being an actor was not in Murphy's plans when he was a political science student at the University of Illinois. A native of Jonesboro, Ark., he was inclined toward teaching or a political career.
"It's funny how things turned out," he says. "Now I'm on a successful television show. As soon as I turn up on screen, I start doing a disappearing act.
"As a kid, I used to watch television, never dreaming I'd be on it someday.
"Life is so full of surprises. I wonder what's in store for me in the years to come?"
Whatever it is, it won't be divined by reading the horoscope of a Gemini man. Murphy's birthday is March 6.
"In real life, the Gemini man is
a Pisces," he says.
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