Actress. Known as "The Girl With the Bee-Stung Lips," she was a hugely popular film star of the silent era. Born Marie Adrienne Koenig in Portsmouth, Virginia, she was a dancer from childhood and first gained notice on Broadway as Vernon Castle's partner in "About Town" (1906). Two years later she joined the Ziegfeld Follies as a chorus girl and by 1915 was headlining that fabled revue. She also toured America with a solo dance act and made a splash in Paris, where her style was likened to that of Isadora Duncan. Murray made her film debut with "To Have And To Hold" (1916), and when she joined the newly-formed MGM in 1924 she was among the highest-paid performers in the business. Although not a great actress, Murray became a top screen idol thanks to her glamorous beauty, mysterious personality and famously full, pouty lips (an exotic attribute in those pre-collagen days). She usually played dancers and alluring blondes, and her leading men included Rudolph Valentino, Wallace Reid, and John Gilbert. Her films include "Face Value" (1918), "Her Body in Bond" (1918), "The Delicious Little Devil" (1919), "Idols of Clay" (1920), "The French Doll" (1923), and "The Masked Bride" (1925). Several of them were directed by her third husband, Robert Z. Leonard, to whom she was married from 1918 to 1925. But she gave her finest performance under the despotic guidance of director Erich von Stroheim in "The Merry Widow" (1925). Her endless clashes with Stroheim during production also cemented her reputation as one of filmdom's most temperamental prima donnas. Murray's downfall began in 1926 with her marriage to the gold-digging Russian Prince David Mdivani. At the ex-nobleman's insistence she walked out on her MGM contract and accompanied him to Europe, where they lived lavishly on her funds. When Murray's money ran out, so did the Prince. They divorced in 1933. Now in her 40s, Murray returned to Hollywood only to find that her former boss, Louis B. Mayer, had had her blackballed by every major studio in town. Unable to support herself with occasional stage and radio work, she went bankrupt and lost her son by Mdivani in a bitter custody dispute. Living in a one-room apartment in a Los Angeles building she had once owned, her looks gone and her stardom just a fading memory, Murray withdrew into her own fantasy world, where she remained eternally young, beautiful, and famous. "Once a star, always a star," she declared. It was a sentiment straight out of "Sunset Boulevard." Her ghost-written autobiography, "The Self-Enchanted" (1959), passed almost unnoticed. In 1959, a dazed and hungry Murray was found wandering the streets of St. Louis, apparently believing she was in New York. She was finally brought to the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California, where she lived out her days surrounded by movie memorabilia from her past.
Bio by: Bobb Edwards