Michael Murphy (actor)

Michael Murphy

Born Michael George Murphy
(1938-05-05) May 5, 1938
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1963present
Spouse(s) Wendy Crewson (1988–2009; divorced)
Children 2

Michael George Murphy (born May 5, 1938) is an American film, television and stage actor. He often plays unethical or morally ambiguous characters in positions of authority, including politicians, executives and lawyers. He is also known for his frequent collaborations with director Robert Altman, having appeared in twelve films, TV series and miniseries directed by Altman from 1963 to 2004, including the title role in the miniseries Tanner '88.

Early life

Murphy was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Georgia Arlyn (née Money), a teacher, and Bearl Branton Murphy, a salesman.[1] He served in the United States Marine Corps and attended the University of California at Los Angeles.[2] After working as a high school teacher for two years at University High School in West Los Angeles, he pursued an acting career.


Murphy is best known for his performances as Jill Clayburgh's adulterous husband Martin in Paul Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman (1978), as Woody Allen's morally ambiguous best friend Yale in Manhattan (1979), as ethically enigmatic lawyer Alan Kligman in Magnolia (1999), and as the star of Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman's HBO miniseries Tanner '88.

Murphy worked frequently with director Robert Altman, including as Captain Ezekiel Bradbury “Me Lay” Marston, IV in M*A*S*H (1970), as Frank Shaft in Brewster McCloud (1970), as John Triplette in Nashville (1975), and as the title character in Tanner '88 (a role he reprised in the 2004 miniseries Tanner on Tanner). Other Altman films and television series in which Murphy appeared include the World War II TV series Combat! (in which Murphy appeared in 1963, on the show's second of its five seasons), Countdown (1968), That Cold Day in the Park (1969), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (1988) and Kansas City (1996).

Other notable film roles include The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Salvador (1986), Silver City (2004), and According to Greta (2009). His television roles include guest appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, L.A. Law and Judging Amy. He has also narrated a large number of episodes of the PBS historical documentary series The American Experience. He appeared in Canadian film and television, including This Is Wonderland, for which he won two Gemini Awards, in 2004 and 2005, and was nominated for a third, in 2006. He also appeared in the 2004 Canadian film Childstar.

Personal life

Murphy was married to Canadian actress Wendy Crewson from 1988 until their divorce in January 2009. They have two children, Maggie (born 1989) and John (born 1992).

Selected filmography


  1. "Michael Murphy Biography (1938-)". Film Reference. Retrieved June 9, 2016.
  2. "Michael Murphy Biography". Yahoo! Movies. Archived December 14, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
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