Murphy, Audie, 1924-1971

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Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1924 – 28 May 1971) was an American soldier, actor, songwriter, and rancher. He was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off a company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition.

Murphy was born into a large family of sharecroppers in Hunt County, Texas. His father abandoned them, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Murphy left school in fifth grade to pick cotton and find other work to help support his family; his skill with a hunting rifle helped feed his family.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Murphy's older sister helped him to falsify documentation about his birthdate in order to meet the minimum-age requirement for enlisting in the military. Turned down initially for being underweight by the Army, Navy and the Marine Corps, he eventually was able to enlist in the Army. He first saw action in the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily; then in 1944 he participated in the Battle of Anzio, the liberation of Rome, and the invasion of southern France. Murphy fought at Montélimar and led his men on a successful assault at L'Omet quarry near Cleurie in north-eastern France in October.

After the war, Murphy embarked on a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical film To Hell and Back, based on his 1949 memoirs of the same name, but most of his roles were in westerns. He made guest appearances on celebrity television shows and starred in the series Whispering Smith. Murphy was a fairly accomplished songwriter. He bred quarter horses in California and Arizona, and became a regular participant in horse racing.

Suffering from what would today be described as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Murphy slept with a loaded handgun under his pillow. He looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills. In his last few years, he was plagued by money problems but refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials because he did not want to set a bad example. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971, which was shortly before his 46th birthday. He was interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, where his grave is one of the most visited.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Ralph Edwards Productions. Ralph Edwards Productions radio and television scripts, 1940-1975. Library of Congress
referencedIn Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007. Program Subject Files, 10/1/1985 - 1996. Audie Murphy manuscript and watch. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn David Goldin Collection, 1932 - ca. 1952. Audio Recordings of Radio Broadcasts of Speeches, Interviews, Combat Reports, Special Events, Public Affairs, and Entertainment for U.S. Troops, 1932 - ca. 1952. AUDIE MURPHY INSERTS. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Sir, Michael Redgrave, Archive, 1890-1996 V & A Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, 1789 - ca. 2007. Program Subject Files, 10/1/1985 - 1996. Audie Murphy manuscript and watch. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Ramsey, Lloyd B. (Lloyd Brinkley), 1918-. Lloyd B. Ramsey oral history transcript, 16-17 Apr 2004. U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center
referencedIn Guide to the Daily Worker and Daily World Photographs Collection, 1920-2001 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
referencedIn General Records of the Department of the Treasury, 1775 - 2005. Historical Files of the Office of the National Director, 1941 - 1969. Universal Six Strip - AUDIE MURPHY (In connection with "Medal of Honor"). National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Ralph Edwards Productions Radio and Television Scripts, 1940-1975 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn General Records of the Department of the Treasury, 1775 - 2005. Historical and Promotional Records, 1941 - 1960. WAR FINANCE COMMITTEE AND LISTS: AUDIE MURPHY SHORT (To Hell & Back). National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Records of the U.S. Information Agency, 1900 - 2003. Photographic File of the Paris Bureau of the New York Times, ca. 1900 - ca. 1950. Prominent Personalities: Murphy, Audie. National Archives at College Park
creatorOf Murphy, Audie, 1924-1971. Page proofs: To hell and back. Texas Woman's University Library, Mary Evelyn Blagg-Huey Library
referencedIn Biography -- Murphy, Audie. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
referencedIn Spiller, Roger J. Man against fire : Audie Murphy and his war / Roger J. Spiller. Dallas Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn John Eldon Thayer collection of motion picture memorabilia, 1916-1979. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn General Records of the Department of the Treasury, 1775 - 2005. Savings Bonds and Stamps Promotional Moving Images, ca. 1950 - ca. 1977. Medal of Honor with Audie Murphy, 1955 National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs. 1773 - 2007. Events Files, 1954 - 1976 National Archives at Washington, D.C
Relation Name
associatedWith Communist Party of the United States of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Goldin, David person
associatedWith Ralph Edwards Productions. corporateBody
associatedWith Ramsey, Lloyd B. (Lloyd Brinkley), 1918- person
associatedWith Redgrave, Michael person
associatedWith Spiller, Roger J. person
associatedWith Thayer, John Eldon, 1899-1980 person
memberOf United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Department of the Treasury corporateBody
associatedWith United States Information Agency corporateBody
associatedWith United States. National Archives and Records Administration corporateBody
associatedWith Wingate, John, 1920-.... person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Texas TX US
Virginia VA US
Subject
Army
Ranchers
Actors--Archives
Songwriters
Post traumatic stress disorder--Patients--Rehabilitation
Medal of Honor
Actors
Occupation
Actors
Songwriters
Ranchers
Actors, American
Soldiers
Activity

Person

Birth 1924-06-20

Death 1971-05-28

Male

Americans

English

Information

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