One of seven children of a New York insurance agent, James Murray was working as a doorman at the Capitol Theater on Broadway when he first landed a walk-on role. Bitten by the acting bug, Murray went on to appear in The Pilgrims (1923), a three-reel short produced by Yale University. He then decided to try his luck in Hollywood, but the best he could scrounge up were a few extra roles. His luck changed radically in 1927 when he was selected by King Vidor to play the "everyman" hero in The Crowd (1928), which remains one of the finest single performances of the silent era. As a result, he was signed by MGM and quickly co-starred in three films, all of which were released before The Crowd so as to build up Murray's audience appeal. Alas, the young actor's personal problems caused him to be dropped by MGM. He later inked a Universal contract in 1929, but once again lost his job. He spent the rest of his career starring in such Poverty Row quickies as High Gear (1933) and $20 a Week (1935), and playing bit roles in more expensive productions. In 1935, 35-year-old James Murray either fell or jumped off a New York pier and drowned in the Hudson River.