Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website Logo This image is copyrighted  2010, by D. Phillips. All rights reserved. Used by written permission. Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website
Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website Logo This image is copyrighted  2010, by D. Phillips. All rights reserved. Used by written permission.
Introduction provided by the Audie Murphy Research Foundation.

Audie's Big Break in Hollywood.
Audie Murphy with James Cherry and Lloyd Nolan.
AUDIE'S FIRST STARRING ROLE WAS IN "BAD BOY," which had its world premiere on February 16, 1949. In the top photo Audie is shown with James 'Skipper' Cherry (center)and film star Lloyd Nolan. To the left is a billboard ad for the film which first brought Audie fame as a movie actor.
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Audie Murphy's acting career did not happen overnight and Audie had a tough time breaking into starring roles. Although Audie had lines in his first two movies, BEYOND GLORY and TEXAS, BROOKLYN AND HEAVEN, his roles are minor and his appearances brief.

Audie's third movie, BAD BOY, was a very important film, not only because it was Audie's first starring role but because of why and how it was made. For personal reasons, this film was particularly significant to Audie Murphy.

After returning home from World War II, Audie bought a house in Farmersville, Texas for his oldest sister Corinne, her husband Poland Burns, and their three children. The idea was that Audie's three siblings, Nadene, Billie, and Joe, who had been living in an orphanage since Audie's mother's death, would also be able to live with Corinne and Poland and would become part of a family again. Unfortunately, six children under one roof created too much stress on everyone. The arrangement didn't work out as smoothly as expected, particulaly with Nadene and Joe, so Audie came and picked them up.

Of course, Joe and Nadene wanted to stay with Audie, but Audie himself was having a hard time surviving. Despite a lot of post war publicity and James Cagney's help, Audie's acting career had gone nowhere. He was broke and sleeping on the floor of his friend Terry Hunt's gymnasium. Audie's oldest brother Buck and his wife agreed to take in Nadene but Audie didn't know what he was going to do with Joe. Audie went to James "Skipper" Cherry, a Dallas theater owner who had previously befriended Audie, and asked his advice. Mr. Cherry was a member of a consortium of Texas theater owners who were part of Variety Clubs International and was involved with the Variety Clubs International Boy's Ranch a 4,800 acre ranch near Copperas Cove, Texas. Mr. Cherry arranged for the Boy's Ranch to take Joe in. Fortunately, Joe loved it there and Audie was able to visit him, as well as Skipper Cherry, frequently.

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During one of these visits, Audie confided to Cherry that even with Cagney's help and acting lessons, he wasn't getting anywhere in Hollywood. In a 1973 interview, Cherry recalled, "He was discouraged and somewhat despondent concerning his movie career." The kind-hearted Texan realized that Audie Murphy himself needed as much help as his brother Joe. The Variety Clubs was financing a film called BAD BOY to help promote the organization's work with troubled children. Cherry called Texas theater executive Paul Short, who was producing the film, and suggested they consider giving Audie a significant role. Audie looked good in the screen test, but the president of Allied Artists did not want to cast someone with so little acting experience as a major character. However, by this time, Cherry, Short, and the other Texas theater owners had decided that Audie Murphy was going to play the lead or they weren't financing the film. Their money talked and Audie Murphy was cast as the lead. He turned in such a fine performance that the Hollywood powers that be finally recognized his talent. As a direct result of this film Universal signed Audie to his first seven year studio contract.

The old Boys Ranch, Copperas Cove, Texas.
The old Boys Ranch just off of FM 116, south of Copperas Cove Texas. The Boys Home was the setting and location of Audie Murphy's third movie, BAD BOY. The photo was taken November 11, 2013 and was contributed by Mr. Ernest Tipton.

So, while it was true that James Cagney introduced Audie to Hollywood and taught him to act, in all likelihood he would never have made it as an actor if it hadn't been for some good-hearted and generous Texans who wanted to help Audie Murphy as much as they helped his brother Joe and other kids in trouble. Audie Murphy himself is probably one of Variety Clubs International's biggest success stories, although most of the world today does not realize this. But Audie Murphy knew it and never forgot it. Which is why he named his second son James Murphy after James Cherry and always called him "Skipper".

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