Murray, William 1926–2005
MURRAY, William 1926–2005
OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born April 8, 1926, in New York, NY; died of a heart attack March 9, 2005, in New York, NY. Journalist and author. Murray was a former staff writer for the New Yorker who turned his passion for horse racing into popular mystery novels and nonfiction books. After spending several childhood years with his mother and her family in Italy after his parents divorced, he was brought back to America, where he attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard University, and the Manhattan Conservatory. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II, Murray lived in Rome for a time, where he studied voice for five years in the hope of becoming an opera singer. Unfortunately, he felt his voice just was not good enough to perform in major opera productions, and so he took up a second interest: journalism. Having worked in Rome as a part-time writer for Time magazine, he returned to New York City and got a job as a reader of fiction submissions to the New Yorker in 1956. By 1961 he was a full-time staff writer, and he later moved back to Italy and wrote a regular column on the country for the magazine. Besides opera and Italy, Murray, who left the New Yorker in the mid-1980s and moved to Del Mar Heights near San Diego's Del Mar racetrack, had a passion for horse racing. He became an expert on the subject, and used this knowledge to write a series of mystery novels and several nonfiction titles, the latter including the well-received The Wrong Horse: An Odyssey through the American Racing Scene (1992). Among his many mystery novels, which have been noted for their exciting depictions of the sport, are The Sweet Ride (1967), which was adapted as a movie, The Mouth of the Wolf (1977), Tip on a Dead Crab (1985), and I'm Getting Killed Right Here (1991). Another novel, Malibu (1980), was turned into a television miniseries. Murray also published books about Italy, such as Italy: The Fatal Gift (1982), which was an American Library Association notable book, and The Last Italian: Portrait of a People. In addition, his autobiographical Janet, My Mother, and Me: A Memoir of Growing up with Janet Flanner and Natalia Danesi Murray (2000) relates his memories of his mother's affair with Flanner after his parents divorced. Two more titles were scheduled for publication after Murray's death, including the mystery novel Dead Heat and the nonfiction Fortissimo: Backstage at the Opera with Sacred Monsters and Young Singers. Although he never became a famous opera star, Murray continued to indulge his interest in singing later in life as a performer with the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company in San Diego.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2005, section 1, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2005, p. B10.
New York Times, March 12, 2005, p. A27.
Washington Post, March 12, 2005, p. B6.