CATEGORIES CinematicalWe've come to know a lot of sides to Bill Murray over the years. He's played the world's most famous gonzo journalist, the sarcastic doctor who can bust ghosts, a time-looping weatherman, a lawyer who flirts with wild teen women, a man of Shakespeare and an eternal bachelor searching for his son ... just to name a few. But before all that he had a much bigger role -- one that definitely showcased his sardonic wit, but not enough brains to suggest that this man would become an iconic figure of Hollywood comedy and indie filmmaking, who would earn an Academy Award nomination.
Forty years ago tomorrow, on his twentieth birthday back on September 21, 1970, Bill Murray was arrested for drug possession.
As the story goes, Murray was at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport waiting to board a plane to Denver, where he was a pre-med student at Regis University. In a moment of sheer stupidity, he told a fellow passenger that he was carrying two bombs in his luggage as a joke. A ticket agent overheard him, and called over federal agents. This is where the sheer stupidity -- or being totally baked -- comes into play. He didn't have bombs, but he was carrying five bricks of marijuana -- 10 pounds, valued at $20,000.
You might wonder why he'd light up that "I have tons of pot" neon over his head, but his poor comedic timing might not have mattered. Chicago detectives had already received a tip about Murray, and were waiting to arrest him. The future actor got really lucky and was charged with possession of cannabis; he plead guilty, and received five years probation. You can see a copy of the news release over at The Smoking Gun.
Obviously, Bill didn't stick to medicine. Five years after Murray's arrest, he earned his first credit as the voice of a reporter on 'Shame of the Jungle.' Another four years later, he earned his starring, breakout role as Tripper in 'Meatballs.' It wasn't until 1980, however, that he made his reefer ways really work for his career, playing Hunter S. Thompson in 1980's 'Where the Buffalo Roam.'
Happy 60th, Mr. Murray!