Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

George Murphy

The Yale drop-out began his career as a song-and-dance man on Broadway in 1927 — his former stage partner Shirley Temple once said he "had a natural sense of rhythm." During the Great Depression, he headed west to Hollywood, making his film debut in 1934. Like Ronald Reagan, he thrived in actors' politics, serving as president of the Screen Actors' Guild in the mid-1940s. He won an Academy Award for career achievement in 1950 and later worked behind the scenes as vice president of the Technicolor Corporation. In 1964, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate, becoming a champion of "visual education" — using Technicolor's "concept" films on math, athletics and science to educate the American youth. But he never saw this pet project through: Murphy lost his re-election bid in 1970 after voters discovered that he still received a salary from Technicolor while serving in Congress.