George Murphy was born in New Haven, Connecticut, of Irish Catholic extraction, the son of Michael Charles "Mike" Murphy, athletic trainer and coach, and the former Nora Long. He was educated at Peddie School, Trinity-Pawling School, and Yale University in his native New Haven. He worked as a tool maker for the Ford Motor Company, as a miner, a real estate agent, and a night club dancer.
In show business
In movies, Murphy was famous as a song-and-dance man, appearing in many big-budget musicals such as Broadway Melody of 1938,Broadway Melody of 1940 and For Me and My Gal. He made his movie debut shortly after talking pictures had replaced silent movies in 1930, and his career continued until he retired as an actor in 1952, at the age of 50.
In 1951, he was awarded an honorary Academy Award. He was never nominated for an Oscar in any competitive category.
He was the president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1944 to 1946. He was a vice president of Desilu Studios and of the Technicolor Corporation. He was director of entertainment for presidential inaugurations in 1953, 1957 and 1961.
Murphy entered politics in 1953 as chairman of the California Republican State Central Committee, having also directed the entertainment for the Eisenhower-Nixon inauguration that same year.
Murphy was married to his ballroom dancing partner, Juliette "Julie" Henkel-Johnson, from December 18, 1926, until her death in 1973. They had two children, Dennis Michael Murphy and Melissa Elaine Murphy. He was married to Bette Blandi from 1982 until his death in 1992.