Actor and comedian Bill Murray was born as William James Murray on September 21st, 1950 in Wilmette, Illinois, in the midst of an Irish Catholic family. Bill is the fifth out of nine siblings, three of whom also became actors. Before his professional career, Bill had never expressed any particular interest in acting for a living, although he had participated in school plays during his formative years. He was even set to study pre-med at Regis College in Denver, but had to drop out after being arrested for possession at an airport. But then, prompted by one of his older brothers, Bill joined an improvisational comedy troupe, which marked the beginning of his career in the entertainment business.
He studied in the improv troupe The Second City, located in Chicago, together with future members of Saturday Night Live. When Bill later moved to New York in 1974, he was cast as a featured character on the comedy show The National Lampoon Radio Hour, which also had an Off-Broadway version. It was thanks to this that Bill landed his first television role as a cast member in ABC’s Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell. However, it wouldn’t be until he moved to Los Angeles in 1976 that Bill Murray would become a famous name when he was cast in NBC’s Saturday Night Live. He stayed on the show for three seasons, from 1977 to 1980.
Bill got his first starring role in the big screen in the 1979 comedy Meatballs, to great success. He later starred in a series of box-office hits at the beginning of the 1980’s, most notably Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), and Tootsie (1982). His biggest role yet would come when he was cast as Peter Venkman in the film Ghostbusters (1984), which became an instant cultural phenomenon and worldwide success. After taking a short break from acting during this time (except to do a cameo in 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors), he returned to filming in 1988, starring in Scrooged, and then the Ghostbusters sequel in 1989.
Murray had another string of highly successful movies at the beginning of the 1990s, when he played the lead role in Frank Oz’ comedy What about Bob? and fantasy comedy Groundhog Day. He went on to have small roles in Ed Wood (1991) and Kingpin (1996). In 1998, Bill starred alongside Michael Jordan in the part-animated, part-live-action comedy Space Jam. In this decade, Murray’s most successful movies with the critics was perhaps the coming of age comedy Rushmore (1998), for which he received several accolades.
In 2003, Murray appeared in Sofia Coppola’s romantic comedy-drama, Lost in Translation, which earned him a Golden Globe award and a BAFTA Award, and even an Academy Award nomination. While taking a break from acting, he made cameos in The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Get Smart (2008) and played himself in Zombieland (2009). He earned another Golden Globe nomination for his performance in the historical comedy Hyde Park on Hudson (2012), and has received positive feedback for the movie Moonrise Kingdom (2012) as well.
In 2014, Murray made a guest appearance in the comedy drama film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, an incredibly successful film that went on to garner nine Academy Award nominations. Murray has also worked as a voice actor, playing the titular character in the family comedy film Garfield: The Movie (2004) and its 2006 sequel and Baloo in the live action adaptation of Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016), and Boss in Isle of Dogs (2018). In 2021, Murray reprised his role as Peter Venkman in 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife.