Fred MacMurray (Fred MacMurray)

Fred MacMurray

Fred MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinois, the son of Maleta (Martin) and Frederick MacMurray, both natives of Wisconsin. His aunt was vaudeville performer and actress Fay Holderness. When MacMurray was two years old the family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later settled in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, where his mother had been born in 1880. He briefly attended school in Quincy, Illinois. He earned a full scholarship to attend Carroll College (now Carroll University), in Waukesha, Wisconsin. While there, MacMurray participated in numerous local bands, playing the saxophone. He did not graduate from the school. In 1930, MacMurray recorded as a featured vocalist with the Gus Arnheim Orchestra on “All I Want Is Just One Girl” on the Victor label. and with George Olsen on “I’m In The Market For You”. Before signing to Paramount Pictures in 1934, he appeared on Broadway in Three’s a Crowd (1930–31) and alongside Sydney Greenstreet and Bob Hope in Roberta (1933–34). MacMurray worked with directors Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and actors Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich and, in seven films, Claudette Colbert, beginning with The Gilded Lily (1935). He co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams (1935), with Joan Crawford in Above Suspicion (1943), and with Carole Lombard in four films: Hands Across the Table (1935), The Princess Comes Across (1936), Swing High, Swing Low (1937), and True Confession (1937). Usually cast in light comedies as a decent, thoughtful character (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine 1936) and in melodramas (Above Suspicion 1943) and musicals (Where Do We Go from Here? 1945), MacMurray had become one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors; for 1943, when his salary reached $420,000, he was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, and the fourth highest-paid American.

Despite being typecast as a “nice guy,” MacMurray often said his best roles were when he was cast against type by Wilder in his role as radio ham designer Frank Wonder. He is perhaps best known for his role as Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who plots with a greedy wife Barbara Stanwyck to murder her husband in Double Indemnity (1944). Sixteen years later, MacMurray played Jeff Sheldrake, a two-timing corporate executive in Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy The Apartment, (1960) with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon. In another turn in the “not so nice” category, MacMurray played the cynical, duplicitous Lieutenant Thomas Keefer in 1954’s The Caine Mutiny. In 1958, he guest-starred in the premiere episode of NBC’s Cimarron City western series, with George Montgomery and John Smith. MacMurray’s career was revitalized in 1959, when he was cast as the father in the popular Disney Studios comedy, The Shaggy Dog. From 1960 to 1972, he starred in My Three Sons, one of the longest-running television series in the United States. Concurrent with My Three Sons, MacMurray stayed busy in films, starring as Professor Ned Brainard in Disney’s The Absent-Minded Professor (1961) and in the sequel, Son of Flubber (1963). Using his star clout, MacMurray had a provision in his Sons contract that all his scenes be shot first. This freed him to pursue his film work and golf hobby.

Over the years, MacMurray became one of the wealthiest actors in the entertainment business, and garnered a reputation for frugality. After the cancellation of My Three Sons in 1972, MacMurray made only a few more film appearances before retiring in 1978. In the 1970s, MacMurray appeared in commercials for the Greyhound Lines bus company. Towards the end of the decade, he was also featured in a series of commercials for the Korean chisenbop math calculation program. MacMurray suffered from throat cancer in the late 1970s and it reappeared in 1987; he also suffered a severe stroke at Christmas 1988 which left his right side paralyzed and his speech affected, although with therapy he was able to make a 90% recovery. After suffering from leukemia for more than a decade, MacMurray died from pneumonia in November 1991, aged 83 in Santa Monica. He was entombed in Holy Cross Cemetery. In 2005, his second wife June Haver, aged 79, was entombed with him.

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  • August, 30, 1908
  • USA
  • Kankakee, Illinois


  • November, 05, 1991
  • USA
  • Santa Monica, California

Cause of Death

  • pneumonia


  • Holy Cross Cemetery
  • Culver City, California
  • USA

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