Michael Murphy

Active - 1967 - 2020  |   Born - May 5, 1938 in Los Angeles, California, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, History

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor Michael Murphy pursued a high school teaching career upon graduation from the University of Arizona. Among the subjects he taught was drama; good-looking and personable enough to get paid for reciting lines to an audience older than the age of 18, Murphy chucked the teaching profession to work on stage. In films since 1967, Murphy is best remembered as Jill Clayburgh's cheating -- and uncontrollably sobbing -- husband in An Unmarried Woman (1978). Michael Murphy has also functioned as a stock company player for director Robert Altman (Countdown [1968], McCabe and Mrs. Miller [1971], Nashville [1974], etc.); in 1988 Munrphy portrayed a pre-fab presidential candidate in Altman's satirical HBO miniseries Tanner.

He continued to work steadily in a variety of projects including Shocker, Folks!, Batman Returns, and Altman's Kansas City, as well as the Howard Stern biopic Private Parts. As the 21st century began he could be seen in Norma Jean, Jack and Me, Live from Baghdad, and Silver City. He starred in the sequel to Tanner - Tanner on Tanner - in 2004, and when on to appear in Away From Her, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Smokin' Aces. He has been hired regularly to narrate a variety of documentaries for the American Experience series.

Movie Highlights

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  • Taught high school English and drama before deciding to purse an acting career.
  • Made his big-screen debut in the Elvis Presley action-comedy Double Trouble (1967).
  • Frequently worked with Robert Altman, appearing in the legendary director's MASH (1970), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and Nashville (1975), among others.
  • Best known for playing fictional congressman Jack Tanner in two eponymous cable series; also portrayed political figures in The Island (1998), The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001) and Silver City (2004).
  • Has been a series regular on the ESPN poker drama Tilt and the Canadian police procedural The Bridge.