Fred MacMurray (August 30, 1908 - November 5, 1991) was a Hollywood actor who appeared in over one hundred movies, during a career that lasted from the 1930s to the 1970s. His most famous role was that of the father in the 1960s TV series My Three Sons. He was typecast for decades as a lovable, friendly fellow, and he capitalized on this by starring in a number of live-action comedies for Walt Disney during the later part of his career, with his biggest hits being The Shaggy Dog and The Absent-Minded Professor.
MacMurray's early film work is largely overlooked by many film historians and critics, but in his heyday, he worked with some of Hollywood's greatest talents including director Preston Sturges and actors Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck and Claudette Colbert. Early in his acting career, he also appeared on Broadway in Three's a Crowd in 1930, and in the original production of Roberta (on which the movie was based) in 1933 with Sydney Greenstreet and Bob Hope.
Born in Kankakee, Illinois to Maleta Martin and Frederick MacMurray, his mother and the newborn accompanied his father, a concert violinist, around the country before finally settling in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin at the age of 5. During his childhood in Beaver Dam he earned the nickname "Bud". While attending Beaver Dam High School he became one of the most popular teenagers in town and was known for his athleticism. MacMurray received 12 varsity letters in 3 years of high school. He was considered one of the best fullbacks and punters in the State of Wisconsin, and earned a full scholarship to attend Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. In college he participated in numerous local bands, playing the saxophone, but after one semester at Carroll he left for Chicago to look for professional gigs.
In spite of his "nice guy" image, MacMurray often stated that the best film roles he ever played were two in which he was cast against type by Billy Wilder. He played the role of Walter Neff, an insurance salesman who plots with a wealthy heiress to murder her husband, in the film noir classic Double Indemnity (1944). In 1960, he played a slimy, two-timing corporate executive in Wilder's Oscar-winning comedy The Apartment, with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon.
A shrewd investor, MacMurray was one of the wealthiest people in Hollywood, as well as one of the most politically conservative. Studio co-workers couldn't help noticing that even as a successful actor, MacMurray would usually bring a brown bag lunch to work, often containing a hardboiled egg. According to MacMurray's co-star William Demarest, MacMurray continued to bring dyed Easter eggs for lunch several months after Easter.
He was married twice. He married his first wife, Lillian Lamont, on June 20, 1936, and they adopted two children. She died on June 22, 1953. He married actress June Haver in 1954, and they also adopted two children.
MacMurray died of pneumonia, at the age of 83, in Santa Monica, California. He was interred in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. He was survived by his wife, June Haver (who died in 2005), and his four children.
During the 1940s, the Fawcett Comics superhero character Captain Marvel was modeled in some ways after MacMurray. (MacMurray had played a caped superhero in a dream sequence in the film No Time for Love.) The same image was later used in the creation of the 1990s character The Gentleman, from Astro City.
MacMurray was named the first Disney Legend in 1987.