He was a stalwart at MGM. That’s him dancing with you know who. When his film career waned the studio used him to narrate their weekly TV program hyping their product. Then he entered politics.
If you’ve ever wondered how the Hollywood to Washington nexus got firmly planted in the American political tradition, you could do worse than reflect back to today’s subject, George Murphy.
Long before Ronald Reagan cemented the Tinseltown-to-D.C. pathway — and well before Arnold Schwarzenegger took off to Sacramento and Sonny Bono took his act to Congress — Murphy established that yes, indeed, a big-time performer could make the jump to elected politician.
Obscured by that is the fact that Murphy was a popular song-and-dance man who carved out a diverse career as actor-producer/director that began in the mid-Thirties and lasted until 1960. (Murphy died in 1992 at age 89.) And, he worked with some of classic Hollywood’s biggest stars.
It was actor Peter Ustinov who observed that since Murphy — a member of “my profession not urgently needed by my profession” — successfully made the transition to politician, “it suggests our job is still more difficult” than his new one.
Ok, let’s see how much you know about George Murphy. Questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Which one of the following is the political post that Murphy got himself elected to? a) Democratic National Committee; b) U.S. House of Representatives; c) U.S. Senate; or d) Postmaster General.
2) Question: Murphy’s career as a song-and-dance man began on Broadway, and carried through to movies with “Broadway” in the title. Which of the following title did Murphy NOT appear in? a) Broadway Melody of 1940; b) Broadway Melody of 1938; c) Little Miss Broadway; or d) Two Girls on Broadway.
3) Question: Murphy had success staring in a number of World War II War films. Which one of the following is not in this group? a) Bataan; b) The Navy Comes Through; c) Battleground; or d) The Thin Red Line.
4) Question: Which one of the following did NOT appear in a George Murphy movie? a) Shirley Temple; b) Eleanor Powell; c) Ronald Reagan; or d) Bela Lugosi.
5) Question: Murphy never won an Oscar. a) True; or b) False?
BONUS QUESTION: (Extra credit if you get it right.) Murphy had a deeply personal effect on the life of Bob Hope. Why?