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Frederick Martin "Fred" MacMurray (August 30, 1908 – November 5, 1991) was an American actor who appeared in more than 100 movies and a highly successful television series during a career that spanned nearly a half-century, starting in 1930 and extending into the 1970s.

MacMurray is well known for his role in the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity, in which he starred with Barbara Stanwyck. Later in life, he became better known as the paternal "Steve Douglas", the widowed patriarch on My Three Sons, which ran on ABC from 1960-1965 and then on CBS from 1965-1972.


MacMurray was born in Kankakee, Illinoismarker, to Frederick MacMurray and Maleta Martin. When MacMurray was 5 years old, the family settled in Beaver Dam, Wisconsinmarker. He earned a full scholarship to attend Carroll Collegemarker in Waukesha, Wisconsinmarker. In college, MacMurray participated in numerous local bands, playing the saxophone.

In 1930, he recorded a tune for the Gus Arnheim Orchestra as a featured vocalist on All I Want Is Just One Girl on the Victor 78 label. Before he signed on with Paramount Pictures in 1934, he appeared on Broadwaymarker inThree's a Crowd (1930–31) with Sidney Greenstreet and alongside Bob Hope in the original production of Roberta (1933–34).

In his heyday, MacMurray worked with some of Hollywoodmarker's greatest names, including directors Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges and actors Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart and Marlene Dietrich. He played opposite Claudette Colbert in seven films, beginning with The Gilded Lily. He co-starred with Katharine Hepburn in Alice Adams and with Carole Lombard in four films, Hands Across the Table, The Princess Comes Across, Swing High, Swing Low and True Confession.

Usually cast in light comedies as a decent, thoughtful character (The Trail of the Lonesome Pine) 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 by 1943, when his salary reached $420,000.

Despite being typecast as a "nice guy", MacMurray often said his best roles were when he was cast against type by Wilder. In 1944, he played the role of Walter Neff, an insurance salesman (numerous other actors had turned the role down) who plots with a greedy wife Barbara Stanwyck to murder her husband in Double Indemnity. Sixteen years later, he played Jeff Sheldrake, a two-timing corporate executive in Wilder's Oscar-winning comedy The Apartment, 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

MacMurray's career got its second wind beginning in 1959, when he was cast as the father figure in a popular Disney comedy, The Shaggy Dog.The 1960s saw him star in My Three Sons, which ran for 12 seasons, making it one of America's longest-running television series. Concurrent with My Three Sons, MacMurray stayed busy in films, starring in 1961 as Professor Ned Brainerd in Disney's The Absent-Minded Professor and in its sequel, Son of Flubber, in 1964. Having the clout of a major star, MacMurray had a provision in his "Sons" contract that all scenes in which he appeared be shot first. This freed him to pursue his film work and golf hobby.

He was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party; he joined Bob Hope and James Stewart in campaigning for Richard Nixon in 1968.

He was considered one of the wealthiest and most frugal actors in the business. Studio co-workers noticed that even as a successful actor, MacMurray would usually bring a brown bag lunch to work, often including a hardboiled egg. According to his co-star on My Three Sons, William Demarest, MacMurray continued to bring dyed Easter eggs for lunch several months after Easter so as not to waste them. Friends and business associates jokingly referred to him as "the thrifty multimillionaire".

After the cancellation of My Three Sons in 1972, MacMurray made only a few more film appearances before retiring in 1978.

Personal life

MacMurray was married twice. He and his first wife, Lillian Lamont, were married on June 20, 1936, and they adopted two children. After Lamont died on June 22, 1953, he married actress June Haver the following year; he and Haver adopted two more children.

MacMurray Ranch

In the 1940s MacMurray established MacMurray Ranch, now a popular winery.


After battling leukemia, MacMurray died from pneumonia in 1991, aged 83 in Santa Monicamarker. He was buried in Holy Cross Cemeterymarker.


In 2007, Bearmanor Media published the first full-length biography of Fred MacMurray by author Charles Tranberg.


In 1939, artist C.C. Beck used MacMurray as the initial model for the superhero character who would become Fawcett Comics' Captain Marvel.



Short subjects

  • Screen Snapshots: Art and Artists (1940)
  • Popular Science (1941)
  • Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 1 (1941)
  • Show Business at War (1943)
  • The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith (1943) (narrator)
  • Screen Snapshots: Motion Picture Mothers, Inc. (1949)


  1. Gus Arnheim: Information re MacMurray
  2. IBDb
  3. TCM Movie Database
  4. The Marvel Family Web

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