Born in Illinois in 1950, Murray started out at comedy troupe Second City Chicago after dropping out of college – and became infamous for his dry humour and improvisational skills.
In 1974, he moved to New York City and landed a role on hit U.S. comedy sketch series Saturday Night Live, where he shared the small screen with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.
Murray made the transition to film in the 1980s, and a string of box office hits such as Caddyshack and Groundhog Day sealed his place in the spotlight.
In 2003, he garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination for his role in Sofia Coppola’s drama Lost in Translation, while his new movie, Get Low – about a man who throws his own funeral party – had audiences laughing again this year (10).
And now Murray’s career seems to have come full circle – with plans to return to the Ghostbusters franchise for the ghoulish second sequel in 2012.
To celebrate his milestone birthday, we dug through his archive for 10 things you might not have known about William James Murray:
– He is the fifth of nine children.
– The actor is an avid golfer, and worked as a caddy to pay his private high school tuition as a teen.
– Teenage Murray was also the lead singer of a rock band called the Dutch Masters.
– He briefly studied pre-med at Regis University in Denver, Colorado but abandoned his academic career after police arrested him for possession of marijuana at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
– Dan Aykroyd originally wrote the role of Dr. Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters for John Belushi, but rewrote the part for Murray after the comedian died in 1982.
– He has homes in Los Angeles, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, Charleston, South Carolina, and Rockland County, New York.
– He has six children from two marriages, aged nine to 28.
– He owns a minor league baseball team in Charleston, South Carolina, called the Riverdogs.
– He was twice bitten by a real groundhog on the Groundhog Day set.
– Murray has a toll-free 1-800 hotline instead of a Hollywood publicist, where callers can leave a message at the beep. He returns messages himself only if he feels like talking business.