Hollywood Remains to Be Seen

Fred MacMurray
1908 - 1991

Holy Cross Cemetery

Though younger audiences may remember MacMurray best as the kindly father in the long-running television sitcom "My Three Sons" in the 1960s, or his appearances in a series of light-entertainment Disney films, film fans remember MacMurray for his role as scheming insurance agent Walter Neff in the sexually charged film noir classic, "Double Indemnity" (1944).

MacMurray started his entertainment career as a saxophone player who toured the country with various bands. On concert stops in Los Angeles in the late 1920s, MacMurray appeared as an extra in several silent films. After he appeared in the Broadway musical, "Roberta," MacMurray was signed by Paramount studios, and the tall, good-looking actor quickly proved his versatility as a leading man in a variety of films, including "The Gilded Lily" (1935), a romantic comedy co-starring Claudette Colbert; "Alice Adams" (1935), a drama co-starring Katherine Hepburn; "Hands Across the Table" (1935), a romantic comedy co-starring Carole Lombard; and "The Forest Rangers" (1942), an action-adventure co-starring Paulette Goddard and Susan Hayward. He even got a chance to sing in "The Princess Comes Across" (1936).

In "Double Indemnity," MacMurray's murky insurance salesman plots a murder with Barbara Stanwyck while trying to keep one step ahead of his boss, played by Edward G. Robinson. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay (Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder) and Best Director (Wilder), but MacMurray's performance was overlooked. In 1998, the American Film Institute released its list of "100 Greatest American Movies," in commemoration of the first 100 years of American cinema, and "Double Indemnity" ranked 38th on the list.

MacMurray continued to move with ease between comedic and dramatic roles, starring in "Murder, He Says" (1945), "The Egg and I" (1947), "The Miracle of the Bells" (1948), "Father Was a Fullback" (1949), "Never a Dull Moment" (1950), "Fair Wind to Java" (1953), "The Caine Mutiny" (1954), "Pushover" (1954), "There's Always Tomorrow" (1956) and "The Apartment" (1960).

MacMurray's career took a different turn in 1959, when he starred in the first of several popular comedies for Disney, "The Shaggy Dog" (1959), followed by "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961), "Son of Flubber" (1963) and "The Happiest Millionaire" (1967). From 1960 to 1972, MacMurray starred as Steven Douglas, widowed father of three boys in "My Three Sons."

In 1954, MacMurray married actress June Haver, and her name also appears on his crypt (although, at this writing, she's not yet ready for her eternal rest). MacMurray and Haver met with they co-starred in "Where Do We Go From Here?" (1945). Haver's mother, Maria Haver (1904 - 1992) and her sister, Evelyn Haver (1927 - 2000), occupy adjacent crypts.

MacMurray was born Fredrick Martin MacMurray on Aug. 30, 1908, in Kankakee, IL. He died on Nov. 5, 1991, in Santa Monica, CA.

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