Looking at the Stars: Audie Murphy

“Nobody likes for his life to be disrupted. But when the country calls, they need you.” – Audie Murphy

By the age of 19, Audie Murphy had won two Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Cross. He won the Medal of Honor at that age by operating a machine gun on a burning tank destroyer waging a solo attack against German forces. Murphy, a native Texan, exhibited that kind of valor throughout his military career, a valor that garnered him every decoration that this country had to offer in addition to five commendations presented to him by France and Belgium. (History) Audie Murphy was the most decorated American combat soldier of World War II when he began his movie career. For these reasons, we look at Audie Murphy (June 20, 1925 – May 28, 1971) in May, which is National Military Appreciation Month.

Audie Murphy, America's Most Decorated Soldier, on Life Magazine in 1945

When Murphy returned home from the war in June 1945, he was greeted with parades, banquets and the cover of Life. Acting legend James Cagney was so taken by the image of the hero soldier that he called Murphy and invited him to Hollywood to begin an acting career.

Audie Murphy appeared in over 40 motion pictures. He made his film debut with a small part in John Farrow’s Beyond Glory (1948), a drama starring Alan Ladd and Donna Reed. Murphy’s first starring role came in Kurt Neumann’s Bad Boy in which he delivers a convincing portrayal of a guilt-ridden juvenile delinquent. Audie Murphy may be best remembered for the numerous Westerns he appeared in, but his most famous turn came in Jesse Hibbs To Hell and Back (1955) based on Murphy’s 1949 best-selling autobiography of the same name. He plays himself in this picture.

Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back (1955)

“Sure the exhibitors love me; I’m a two bag man! By the time I’m through shooting up all the villains, the audience has gone through two bags of popcorn each.” – Audie Murphy in 1955 after being selected the most popular western star by movie exhibitors.

As the above quote illustrates, Audie Murphy never took his acting talent seriously. He also did not like to be called a hero or to be referred to as “the most decorated soldier.” However, today we all remember him for all he excelled at and for the sacrifices he made to make the world a better place.

Other military observances in May…

Loyalty Day – May 1

VE Day (commemorating the end of WWII in Europe) – May 8

Military Spouses Day – May 11

Armed Forces Day – May 19

Memorial Day – May 28

National Military Awareness Month was officially declared by Congress in 1999.

Similarly themed pages…

Movies about the Civil War

Movies about the Korean War

Movies featuring the Air Force

The Navy in Movies

Movies featuring Sailors

Movies about World War I

Movies about World War II

Military Academy was a Film directed by D. Ross Lederman

Safeguarding Military Information (1942) short film directed by Preston Sturges


Until next month,

–Aurora Bugallo for Classic Movie Hub

Aurora Bugallo is a classic film-obsessed blogger, and co-founder and co-host of the Classic Movies and More Youtube show. You can read more of Aurora’s articles at Once Upon a Screen, or you can follow her on Twitter at @CitizenScreen.

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4 Responses to Looking at the Stars: Audie Murphy

  1. Javier Valverde says:

    Thank you Aurora for this beautiful article about Audie Murphy. He’s unknown today and underrated as an actor. Thank you for this tribute to his acting and military career.

  2. Gloria Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the post. I’ll be checking out some of his films. The LIFE cover and the movie still both show a face that appears untouched by his war experiences. He looks so young. It’s hard to grasp that the pictures show him AFTER WW II and not before. I’m reminded that we can never know what’s inside people just by looking at them.

  3. KittyPride says:

    Audie Murphy in To hell and back was such an amazing film, boggles the mind. He was such a brave man.

  4. David Hollingsworth says:

    Audie Murphy was very underrated and understated as an actor.

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