How much did you know about one of classic Hollywood’s biggest, underrated male stars?
Yes, Fred MacMurray is perhaps best remembered for starring in a smash Sixties tv series, that he embodied the idea — fondly remembered — of a wise and benevolent paternal figure and that he wound up as one of Hollywood ‘s richest male stars?
Fact is that not a lot is recalled about MacMurray’s earlier films, and we’re hoping that our Monday Quiz will to some extent help remedy that. The actor was pretty much a grounded, nice guy offscreen although his best screen work plays with his all-American demeanor in alarming ways.
So here’s to the MacMurray oeuvre in all its glory. On to our Quiz answers. As usual, to review the questions just scroll down to the blog below. Here we go:
1) Answer: d) Claudette Colbert, who made a total of seven movies opposite MacMurray. Barbara Stanwyck, Carole Lombard and Paulette Goddard each made four with the actor.
2) Answer: a) A musician (as you can guess from the photo above). The actor started playing the saoxophone in high school, and continued right up until the beginning of his movie career. From 1930 to 1931, MacMurray played professionally with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra (wonder whatever happened to Gus Arnheim?). The actor also fooled around at various points with the piano, violin and guitar.
3) Answer: a) June Haver, the actress who quit a decent movie career to pass in and out of a nunnery. Then she married MacMurray in 1954, a union that lasted 37 years until the actor’s death in 1991.
4) Answer: b) John Wayne.
5) Answer: MacMurray personally had deep reservations about playing weak-willed, murderous insurance agent Walter Neff in 1944’s Double Indemnity because he disliked the character. He took the role anyway and was superb.
6) Answer: d) Walt Disney, who became fast friends with MacMurray late in his career, and cast him in a series of hit Sixties movie comedies with the actor usually playing bumbling Dagwood Bumstead-type characters.
7) Answer: 1947’s The Egg and I co-starred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert, and featured Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as a rustic comedy duo, Ma and Pa Kettle. The characters proved very popular, and were the basis of a successful movie series spinoff in the late Forties and early Fifties.
8) Answer: b) False. In The Caine Mutiny, MacMurray plays the duplicitous Navy Lt. Tom Keefer who undermines his superior officer, Lt. Commander Queeg, memorably played by Humphrey Bogart.
9) Answer: d) Eddie Albert.
10) Answer: b) Mitchell Leisen, who directed MacMurray in nine movies. Check out their work together in 1937’s Swing High Swing Low with Carol Lombard. MacMurray plays an ex-GI trumpet player.