Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Rosemary Murphy R.I.P.

Rosemary Murphy, who played Maudie Atkinson in the classic To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and appeared frequently on television and on Broadway, died 5 July 2014 at the age 89. The cause was cancer.

Rosemary Murphy was born in Munich, Germany on 13 January 1925. Her father worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. She spent her early years in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. With the onset of World War II in 1939 Miss Murphy was sent back to the Untied States. Miss Murphy made her film debut in the German film Der Ruf in 1949. She made her debut on Broadway in The Tower Beyond Tragedy in 1950.

In the Fifties Miss Murphy appeared in such television shows as Lux Video Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. She appeared in the film That Night! (1957). She appeared on Broadway in Look Homeward, Angel and Period of Adjustment.

In the Sixties Miss Murphy appeared in such films as The Young Doctors (1961), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), and Any Wednesday (1966). She was a regular on the soap opera The Secret Storm and appeared on such TV shows as Way Out, Thriller, Naked City, The Virginian, Ben Casey, The Defenders, The Fugitive, and Run for Your Life. She appeared on Broadway in The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, Any Wednesday, A Delicate Balance, Weekend, and The Death of Bessie Smith / The American Dream.

In the Seventies Miss Murphy was a regular on the short lived show Lucas Tanner. She guest starred on such shows as Maude, The Streets of San Francisco, Columbo, Movin' On, Cannon, and Most Wanted. She appeared in the films Ben (1972), You'll Like My Mother (1972), Walking Tall (1973), Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies (1973), 40 Carats (1973), Julia (1977), and The Attic (1980). She appeared on Broadway in Butterflies Are Free, Ladies at the Alamo, Cheaters, and John Gabriel Borkman.

In the Eighties Rosemary Murphy appeared on such TV shows as Magnum P.I., Trapper John M.D., Quincy M.E., Kate & Allie, and Murder She Wrote. She played Rose Kennedy in the mini-series A Woman Named Jackie. She appeared in the films The Hand (1981) and September (1987).  She appeared on Broadway in Coastal Disturbances and The Devil's Disciple.

From the Nineties into the Naughts Miss Murphy appeared in such films as For the Boys (1991), Twenty Bucks (1993), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Message in a Bottle (1999), Dust (2001), The Savages (2007), Synecdoche, New York (2008), After.Life (2009), and The Romantics (2010). She guest starred on such shows as Law & Order, Civil Wars, Dr Quinn Medicine Woman, In the Heat of the Night, and Fraiser. She appeared on Broadway in a revival of A Delicate Balance and Waiting in the Wings.

Rosemary Murphy was a talented actress with a capacity for playing a wide variety of roles. This can be seen in the difference between her two best known roles. Maudie, the Finch's neighbour in To Kill a Mockingbird, is very open and kind hearted, yet at the same time possesses a strong will and a sharp tongue.  Dorothy Cleves in Any Wednesday is bubbly and affable, but at the same time decidedly upper crust. Miss Murphy was capable of playing a wide array of characters, right down to the way they spoke. Indeed, she is one of the few American actors not from the South to successfully do a genuine sounding Southern accent; watching To Kill a Mockingbird it is hard to believe she was not from Alabama. She was certainly one of the great character actresses of the late 20th Century.

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