Fred MacMurray was one of the most durable stars in motion picture history. Fred arrived in Hollywood in 1934 and within a year he was one of the top leading men in the movie industry. He was the leading actor or one of the leads in films through 1973 when Walt Disney Studios released his final starring role in a motion picture, Charley and the Angel. Thirty-nine years - five separate decades. Few stars have equaled that distinction. Of course every star career has its peaks and valleys. The initial peak of Fred's stardom was from his days as a Paramount leading man, beginning in 1935 and running roughly until the end of the Second World War. Like many aging stars, the post-war years were a mixed bag for Fred. Public tastes were changing and the kind of frothy, romantic comedies which had been his forte were going out of fashion. But he persevered and continued to do leading roles in a variety of pictures and from time to time found a film which registered strongly with film audiences and critics alike, such as The Egg and I (1947), and especially The Caine Mutiny (1954). By the mid 1950s Fred was appearing, increasingly, in that favorite genre of the aging leading man - the western film. Eight of ten films he made between 1955 and 1960 were westerns, not Fred's favorite genre. But they did keep his name before the public. Then in 1959, Fred began the second peak of his career thanks to Walt Disney, who cast Fred in his studios first live action comedy film, The Shaggy Dog. Incredibly this film which was made for under $1 million became the third biggest box office hit of that year, and Fred found a new audience. Over the next several years, Fred starred in a series of hugely popular family films for the Walt Disney Studios. Then in 1960, Fred did something that solidified his new family friendly image. He accepted the lead in a new television series called My Three Sons.
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WONDERFUL STORY! BAD NARRATOR!
Having grown up watching MY THREE SONS (1959-1972), I found the story of Fred MacMurray quite enlightening. It was endearing to find out that the man I enjoyed as a homey father figure was also a down home person. McMurray was never one to let fame to go to his head. I also admired the fact that he stood by his first wife all the way to her deathbed (not many people do that any more
Another wonderful comparison would be the book MY LUCKY LIFE IN AND OUT OF SHOW BUSINESS (Dick Van Dyke, 2012). Though the Van Dyke book is an autobiography, it paints both people in real colors (not studio-created images).
Patrick Ross reads the book in monotone, almost sounding like a computer voice. Had he put emotions (at least some), it would have been much more interesting.
It's a very charming book, but, at ten hours, a little too long for one sitting.
If you are a baby boomer, this is a MUST READ!
- Tony Minich