You may not have fully appreciated that our man Don Murray — no relation to Bill but father to actor Chris — was a top leading man in the 1950s.
But there he is above in Bus Stop, the 1956 big screen adaptation of William Inge’s play about a naive rodeo cowboy squiring saloon singer Marilyn Monroe, and trying to persuade her to settle down in Montana (fat chance). His performance won our man an Oscar nomination, and a long and fruitful career.
His other big Fifties movies include 1957’s A Hatful of Rain and 1959’s Shake Hands With the Devil. The early Sixties brought The Hoodlum Priest and Advise and Consent while the early Seventies generated Conquest of the Planet of the Apes followed in the mid-Eighties by Francis Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married.
Fact is that most of Murray’s career, although a lengthy one (he started in his early 20’s and is still going at age 88), was not spent on the big screen but on television. He co-starred with Otis Young in the western series, The Outcasts, in the late Sixties, and turned up last year in David Lynch’s update of his successful mystery series, Twin Peaks.
The tube credit most closely identified with Murray is Knot’s Landing, the CBS primetime series spin off from the hugely successful Dallas. He was Michele Lee’s original costar, playing her husband. Murray departed the series, however, after only two seasons in either a salary dispute or a decision to “focus on other projects.” Take your choice. In any case, Knot’s Landing was a substantial hit and ran sans Murray until 1993.
Murray’s first wife was the late actress Hope Lange, who died in 2003.