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Ross Murry
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Ana: This is Ana Carrillo–

Daniel:–Daniel Gowan–

Aimee:–Aimee Jimenez–

Gonzalo:–Gonzalo Barragan–

Gabe:–and Gabe Shapiro–

Ana:–student historians from the North Coast Rural Challenge Network’s Oral History Project in Anderson Valley.

Gabe: We’re here today with Ross Murray. Thank you, Mr. Murray, for joining us.

Ana: Mr. Murray, will you tell us about your childhood?

Mr. Murray: OK, uh, I was born in 1918 in New York City. Shortly after that my family moved to Philadelphia. Shortly after that my family moved back to New York. Shortly after that we moved to Massachusetts, after which we moved to New Jersey, after which we moved back to Philadelphia. And that took nineteen schools and one college before I finished.

Gabe: Why did you move around so much?

Mr. Murray: Pardon me?

Gabe: Why did you move around so much?

Mr. Murray: My dad’s work took him from place to place, and he was always looking for a better place to start a business. He was in business for himself a few times. A few times he worked for somebody else. But, uh, he also was not what one would consider a good husband. He left his family from time to time, and when we would track him down we would join him there. And the last time he left was when I came to California. And that was the end of that. And I stayed here.

Ana: What were your parents like?

Mr. Murray: I had a very, very kind, understanding mother who knew that she had a husband who left something to be desired, but she stayed until the last time he left her. And then I supported the family.

Gonzalo: How do you feel?

Mr. Murray: Pardon me?

Gonzalo: How did you feel when…

Mr. Murray: When what?

Gonzalo: How did you feel when your father left?

Mr. Murray: Pretty bad. Pretty bad. It’s a very difficult thing for a young person–male or female–uh, when one of the parents falls short. And, uh, it can do one of two things to a human being, it can either make them work very hard not to duplicate that kind of conduct when they get married, or sometimes it keeps them from getting married entirely because of what they see.

Ana: What was the Depression like?

Mr. Murray: The Depression–most of the time I was not really aware of the Depression. I was fed, clothed, housed properly. Uh, I read–I started reading newspapers at a very early age, and uh, I was an avid reader, so that I was able to understand what was going on in the country. The reasons for why they were going on, I wasn’t aware of until I got older, and I was able to examine how the country works. But at that time I was only aware of the fact that there were places in the United States where children were hungry and people were hungry, and I remember the men selling apples on the street corners. I remember the bread lines. I saw pictures of the bread lines in Chicago. So I was really aware of the Depression even though it didn’t affect me at that time directly. It only affected me when I went out on my own in 1937. Then I found out there was a Depression. (Laughs).

Ana: Why did you leave home?

Mr. Murray: I left home because I could no longer tolerate the…the atmosphere in my household. I left home because I didn’t really like my father, and I was old enough…

Gabe: How old were you?

Mr. Murray: I was eighteen.

Gabe: Eighteen.

Mr. Murray: I was old enough to start…start to become angry. And I was smart enough to know that it’s better to leave than to do something foolish.

Gabe: Um.

Ana: Yeah.

Mr. Murray: So, it wasn’t with my mother’s blessing. My mother was very concerned, but she gave me the fare because she knew that it was time for me to go.

Gabe: And where’d you go?

Mr. Murray: I came to California–

Gabe: Uh-huh.

Mr. Murray:–came to Los Angeles. I had a cousin, on my mother’s side, a young man who was an attorney, and, ah, he was young enough that even though he was an attorney, he was still living at home. He was unmarried, and we got along quite well, and two weeks later my mother joined us with my sister, and I went to work.

Ana: How has California changed you?

Mr. Murray: California, California in 1937 was absolutely beautiful. California had the best transportation system I had ever seen, and–better then I ever saw even after I became an adult. Los–what did I say? California–I meant to say Los Angeles. Thank you, (looks at Mrs. Murray), my editor. (Everyone laughs).

Anyway, California had a wonderful transportation system. They had an excellent trolley system; they had a light rail system. The fares were reasonable, and, it took you all over–over–all over the country–very. ah small bus system, but primarily California was a troll–Cala–said it again! Los Angeles–

Gabe: (Giggles).

Mr. Murray:–was ah–had a good trolley system.

Daniel: Ah–you were in quite a few movies. Could you tell us something about the motion picture business?

Mr. Murray: OK–ah–I started the motion picture business in 1937. Ah–I was able to become listed at central casting, which is where all the extras came from. We’re not talking about actors, we are talking about extras, people who just dance, swim, ride horseback, ah–they are the people who are the audiences at a theater. Those are the young men that play soldiers, and I was at a perfect age group at the time.

Gabe: So, back then extras could make a decent living?

Mr. Murray: Oh, if you had certain skills–you know there was a lot, a lot of stories told about the starving extra in the motion picture business.

Gabe: Uh, huh.

Mr. Murray: But if you were between nineteen and twenty-five, that particular age group, and you could dance, you could swim, you could ice-skate, you could ride a horse, you had any kind of rhythm so you could march, you could make a pretty good living. And for a young man supporting a family, it was essential. The dancing thing is rather interesting. I was on a movie set, in the audience, and ah–by that time I had gotten to know this other young man, about my age, and he was a dancer, and he was between pictures–but like most dancers between dancing movies, you did extra work. He was also a pretty good horseback rider. Anyway, we became good friends–double-dated. We’d go to the prizefights together. One day I was calling central casting, and they picked me up. They said–oh, you know, you’d call in, and you’d give your name, and a casting director picks you up and says OK, be at Warner Brothers tomorrow for an interview, for Leroy Prinz, and it pays fifty cents. That’s what interviews paid, quarter, fifty cents, and I knew who Leroy Prinz was–he was a dance director. I wasn’t a dancer–so I called my friend, Buddy, and I said, "Hey, Bud, I just picked up a dance job, an interview, at Warner Brothers tomorrow." He says, "So did I, I’ll see you there." I said, "Yeah, but Buddy, I have but one problem." He says, "What?" I said, "I can’t dance." (Everyone laughs).

"Oh," he says, "I know what Leroy likes. Come on over to my house tonight, my mom will fix us dinner, and I’ll teach you what to do." And in one night he taught me a time step, and a break, and the next day I went on the interview and made the job–(everyone laughs)–and learned on the job, and that’s how I became a dancer. Once you start doing it, it’s a continuing learning process. As a matter of fact, there’s a picture here (shows picture) of four–six male dancers and Shirley Temple. This is a picture I worked on at MGM after this movie star, Shirley Temple, who was a child star, after she left Twentieth Century Fox. She was now a teenager and she had gone to MGM–MGM picked her up. Twentieth Century Fox didn’t feel any need to keep her. She went to MGM–uh, they had a dance interview–they picked these six young men, and it was one of the funniest dance numbers I ever did in my life. It was kind of a Cuban thing and we rehearsed it for ten days without the props, and when we finally found out what the props were we were ready for anything. What they were was live chickens. We were gonna dance with live chickens. Now we’d worked for ten days already, getting the routine set and now we were gonna do dress rehearsals with live chickens. I don’t have to tell you what happened with the chickens and what the chickens kept doing and they finally had to cancel the whole dance number (everybody laughs). They were dying, they were defecating, they were squawking. It was just impossible to do the number and if you look at the picture, you see we’re holding these live chickens.

Gabe: What was Shirley Temple like?

Mr. Murray: Shirley Temple was an interesting young lady. Uh, she led a very sheltered life at Twentieth Century Fox. I don’t know–when she became a teenager, she–now this is just me talking–she lost that spontaneous, natural charm she had as a child. She was one of the best child actresses I ever saw in my life. She could do it all–she could dance, she could act, she could sing, she had a remarkable range of talent. She was quite a girl. She was quite a girl. And as it happens with a lot of young performers, they become adult and they lose that childish charm. It’s part of the business, it’s part of growing up. Most of us were cute when we were young, weren’t we?

Ana: What movies were you in?

Mr. Murray: Oh gosh! I don’t think we have enough time to number them all out. I’ll tell you a few. There’s a picture called Gunga Din–I don’t know if everybody saw that picture? That was a wonderful picture. It was a story about India and the Bengal Lancers. I worked on Meet John Doe–oh you know, these are names you wouldn’t even recognize. I mean, I can tell you five million pictures, but the last, I think the last picture I worked on was Sunset Boulevard–

Gabe:–and what year was it?

Mr. Murray:–that you might remember.

Gabe: What year was it?

Mr. Murray: 1949. As a matter of fact, I had just gone to work for CBS. And I had gone through the war and come back and through a series of circumstances, fortuitous circumstances, I went to work for CBS at a lot less money than I had been making previously, but I felt it was a good lateral move so that maybe I could do better. Anyway, it was about a week after I had been with CBS, the phone rang in the sound effects department, and it was a casting director at Paramount who had called my home and found out I was working at CBS and he said, "Ah, well you know I was gonna give you a job for a couple of days." And luckily it was on my two days off with CBS and I did Sunset Boulevard. And you can still see me in that picture, but not for long. And in Holiday Inn you can see me there, but I think most of you people might see that movie at Christmastime–Holiday Inn with Fred Astair and Bing Crosby. I worked on that thing for quite awhile, two numbers on that, and that’s it, you know. There are lot of other–hundreds of movies that, you know, as an extra you do you’re in that, you pick up your money and you’re out. You know, you can stay for a week, two weeks, dance jobs usually ran anywhere from three to four weeks, and–but you rarely get to see the faces of anybody in the chorus and particularly now looking back–fifty, sixty years, you couldn’t recognize me anyway.

Gonzalo: Do you like watching your movies?

Mr. Murray: Not particularly, it’s kinda strange to see yourself, as you were forty years ago–it makes you wish you were back there sometimes. It makes you very aware of how much time has elapsed. When you see what you looked like when you were twenty-two, twenty-four, and twenty-five–so it really isn’t a lot of fun. I, I enjoy movies, I really enjoy, I enj–in matter in fact, I really enjoy looking at older movies. The movies of the ’30s and the movies of the ’40s, and so does my wife (laughs).

Ana: Were you nervous when you where filming?

Mr. Murray: Pardon?

Ana: Were you nervous?

Mr. Murray: No, not really, not really, I think I was more nervous in college when I was in the dramatic club…I had a little problem with, going on stage and performing for the first time, but after a while it becomes a business, it’s, it’s a business that you don’t get nervous anymore. Oh, you get butterflies in the stomach sometimes if you do something difficult, but by and large it’s your business…it’s your business.

Aimee: So when did you go to war?

Mr. Murray: I went to war–let me put it this way–four days after Pearl Harbor, I tried to get in the Naval Air Corp, and I passed their physical, and I passed their mental but I, I–the selection board said I was too old. I was over twenty-three, which is not too old, but they said–they felt that my study habits weren’t good anymore because I was out of college since 1937. So I went to the Army Air Corp and I took their physical and mental, and they accepted me at twenty-three…and that was 1942–I went to war.

Ana: Why did you go?

Mr. Murray: Why did I go?

Ana: Yeah.

Mr. Murray: I felt that it was essential to help my country and rather than–well, see and I really wasn’t worried about being drafted because I was support, sole support of a family–my mother and younger sister; I could’ve stayed out for the whole four years, but I just felt that I should go–and I went.

Aimee: And so what did you do?

Mr. Murray: I flew for Uncle Sam. By volunteering I was able to pick my own branch, and I wanted to fly very much. And I managed to go through aviation cadets and become a pilot and flew for the next three years. Never got shot at, however. Now in some ways it was disappointing because basically this is what you do–you prepare to go fight. At an instant you become an instructor because you’re a little older then most, this is where the difference of age mattered. My first assignment was flying students who were learning how to drop bombs. I was bombardier student pilot and I flew bombardier students for six months, day, after day, after day, in altitudes anywhere from a 1,000 feet to 16,000 feet. Anyway, and after crying a lot, not really, but complaining a lot, my commanding officer allowed me to go through the B-17 school. That was a four-engine bomber, famous, the Flying Fortress, famous airplane in World War II, and I thought this was my chance, and I went through B-17’s, and–because by then I was twenty-four years old–they made me a B-17 instructor.

I went to instructor school, and then by the time I finished that, they thought I would be a good assistant operations officer for the base and I became an assistant operations officer. And then after complaining for a few months, ah, my commanding officer allowed me to go through B-29 school and the B-29 was the big four engine airplane, and I went though B-29 school and then I picked up a crew and got ready to go overseas and they ended the war and I never got to fly in combat, never got to be shot at, but in the long run and looking back fifty years, that’s not too bad. I’m still here.

Ana: Were you scared?

Mr. Murray: Yes.

Ana: Of flying?

Mr. Murray:–scared, once in awhile. I had an airplane catch fire on me, and I was about 150 miles from the field and had one of the engines blow up and I was–we were flying a 1,000 feet at the time and one of the men went crazy and he wouldn’t jump, so I flew him back to the base-–and I was scared all the way–because the airplane could have blown up. But…once you get to do something, you don’t get scared a lot, once you get to fly, you understand your equipment and this is the way things are… you don’t get scared–if you get scared you don’t belong up there because if you get scared you can’t think straight and a lot of times you need to think straight.

Gabe: Do you still fly?

Mr. Murray: Once in a while I do have an opportunity to fly, we have–I have some friends here at the airport who have airplanes and once in awhile I fly, but not really often any more. I did for awhile and, a matter of fact, shortly after I got out of the Air Force I was partners in a charter airplane–a business and that was fun for awhile–but I don’t fly much anymore except when my friends invite me.

Ana: What is your opinion on the dropping of the bomb?

Mr. Murray: Hm?

Ana: What was your opinion on the dropping of the atomic bomb?

Mr. Murray: OK, that is–you know that is–the atomic bomb has caused a lot of discussion in this country. My feeling, being a pilot, and knowing exactly–not only being a pilot–but being a student of the war–I am a student of the war–I know what happened in Europe; I know what happened in Saipan; I know what happened in Guadalcanal; and the China, Burma, India theatre; I know what happened; I know who got killed; I know who didn’t get killed; and if the atomic bomb saved American lives, it was worth dropping–actually this was war. Ah, Pearl Harbor was war, we were bombed without provocation and if the atomic bomb shortened the war and saved some lives–fine.

Gonzalo: Where were you when the atomic bomb was dropped?

Mr. Murray: Where was I?

Gonzalo: Yeah…

Mr. Murray: I was at Davis Monthan Field in Tucson, Arizona and–ah–I saw the biggest party I’ve ever seen in my life after that (laughs). It went on for days.

Gonzalo: So, you went into radio?

Mr. Murray: What’s that?

Gonzalo: So, you went into radio?

Mr. Murray: Yeah, I went into radio, ah, getting into radio was really, ah, kind of a lucky break. I had met, ah, a bunch of people at a party–I have, one of my very close friends, ah, was a producer and a writer of comedy shows and, ah, he called and invited me to a party, went to this party, met a whole bunch of nice people, and, ah, about a month later went to another party, met the same people and about a couple of months after that it was my birthday and I invited all those same people to my house, and at that time as I told you before I was, I was standing in for a movie star–I was Peter Lawford’s stand-in, I don’t know if you ever heard of Peter Lawford, anyway, and I was doing pretty well–money-wise–anyway one of the gentlemen I met at these parties was the head of sound–radio CBS sound effects–and through just ordinary conversations, subject came up and, ah, he mentioned that he was going to add somebody to his staff and I told him to add me, and he said OK. And a month later I went to work for CBS–in sound effects and radio.

Gabe: What do you mean by sound effects?

Mr. Murray: Sound effects–radio is an aural, A-U-R-A-L, an aural medium to ears. But how do you know where you are? If I give you a sheet of paper with dialogue on it, it means nothing unless you know where you are. With sound effects I can put you anyplace because sound effect is the scenery of radio, simple as that. I’ll put you at the North Pole, I’ll put you on a river, I’ll put you on the ocean, I’ll put you in the rain, I’ll put you in snow. I’ll put you at the beach, I’ll put you in the middle of a metropolitan area, I’ll put you in the woods, I’ll put you in a deep sea diver suit at the bottom of the ocean. That’s sound effects. That’s the scenery.

Gabe: Were you good at making noises with your mouth?

Mr. Murray: Some, but not too many, not too many. There were certain– the time that you would make noises with your mouth is when it was, ah, part of a character, in other words, if they–if there was an exchange of dialogue, so to speak, between an animal and the human being, or if the animal sound was a specific cue then you would do it with your mouth. When I had young vocal chords, I was a pretty good woof; I could make a woof call, a pigeon, a dog, a cat. Ah, you just do these things.

Gabe: Can you do any for us right now?

Mr. Murray: I–ah–WOOF.

Gabe: That was good (laughs).

Mr. Murray: That was a little dog (laughs). But those days are kind of over, but you know–woowoo (pigeon sound). I can’t do a pigeon anymore. But, anyway, rarely–rarely do we do–do we do anything with our mouths. We had–particularly in the early days–we had an extensive record library. It was important. We had phonograph record of just about everything of what you could possibly imagine for that time, and what we didn’t have, we could manufacture. Ah, and this–again–ah, I have a picture I could have brought, but I didn’t. It dealt with one of the first tough shows we ever did; it was a story of an invasion of rats on a lighthouse. Yeah, we had to make the noises of rats–we had to make the rats squeaking; the old man’s coughing. And we had to make rats chewing through wooden trap doors, and this all took creativity. And–that’s right–hundreds of rats scraping windows, going up the circular metal staircase, and this is what we did–this is what sound effects is about.

And when I mentioned the deep-sea diver before, it was a story about a deep-sea diver going down looking for a specific ship. And you have to think, well, what does he hear? How do we know he is a deep-sea diver, there’s going to have some scenery. So–the kind with the big copper helmet–you know the brass helmet–so you add the sounds of the pump supplying air to him. With the sound of the pump supplying air–you can hear that; you can hear the hiss of the air escaping; you don’t hear bubbles–you only hear bubbles when they break at the surface, ’course you don’t hear bubbles under water. So there’s an, what every step he took on that ship, on that sunken ship, you added a little of echo so you know–so you step (makes the sound of the echo). And it built the scene. And that’s what I mean by scenery. Ah, I think I mentioned it earlier, there was a scene once where–ah, in matter of fact this was done on television–they had a finale all about trains. All the songs dealing with trains–I think–and one of the requirements was they wanted a train coming in twelve-bar count–counting musical bars, and they wanted a train coming in and coming to a stop with the steam escaping, and then the whistle in a certain key to blend with the music. That’s sound effects–that’s sound effects.

Daniel: I noticed you brought a tape with you. Could we listen to it?

Mr. Murray: Uh, I don’t know if that machine will take it. That’s–you asked the question, the question was, did you bring any sound effects with you? Yes, I did. Uh, but let me give you a little uh, uh, story about it first. Uh, Tim Conway, I think you might have heard about Tim Conway, he replaced Carol Burnett for one summer season, and, uh, since I was Carol Burnett’s sound man I also did Tim’s show. Got a call from the writers who wanted to try something. And they wanted Tim caught in a traffic jam and then they wanted him to lead a band on auto horns. And they wanted to know if it could be done. And I said yes it could be done. So the following morning I took my portable tape machine to the parking lot at CBS at six o’clock in the morning and everybody that came in, I got a sample of their auto horns. And then picked the ones that I thought would fit the song and this is what came out. Now it’ll take awhile. I think it’s still that leader there, (indicates tape).

Mr. Murray: That’s sound effects. (Plays auto horn song, laughs).

Gabe: So for radio, did you only do sound effects or did you–were you an actor…?

Mr. Murray: No, as a matter of fact in radio I did something else, too. Uh, in the sound effects department we used to get all the scripts in to the department and then each man would get the script for his show and set up a show and do the show. So I got to read all the scripts and I figured one day that I could write as well as some of those scripts that we were doing. So I bought a typewriter. I had done some writing in college. I had already sold–I sold a short story in 1946 just fooling around. And I bought this typewriter and went to work and I sold my first script to a show called The Whistler which is a mystery show of the ’30s and ’40s. And then I wrote–and anyway to make a long story short, I wrote for the next eight years. I wrote radio mysteries, I wrote comedies, I wrote romances. And, uh, about the time I started editing videotape I was so busy, the combination of me being very busy and radio dying essentially was the end of my radio writing.

Gabe: So you went–you decided going to television?

Mr. Murray: And I was–I didn’t decide, they decided for me.

Gabe: Yeah.

Mrs. Murray: CBS.

Mr. Murray: I came back from vacation in 1954 and they said, "Guess what–you’re in television."

Gabe: Hmph.

Mr. Murray: So I went to television…

Mrs. Murray: CBS.

Mr. Murray: CBS television–that’s right, gotta give CBS (laughs)–I went to CBS television and uh, became a boomman. Now a boomman is the guy who stands on a platform with a long retractable arm and he gets the dialogue or the music. And I was assigned to–as a matter of fact I have a picture here of a boomman….(shows picture).

Mrs. Murray: There’s a microphone on the end of that.

Ana: So the microphone hangs right there? (Pointing to the picture).

Mr. Murray: Oh yeah, I kinda took that for granted that there’s a microphone at the end of this boom. The controls enable you to move it in and out. You can turn it which way, and it can go up and down. You have to follow the dialogue, or the music. I was on the Bob Crosby Show, which was a musical show–I was on that for two years. Before, I was picked with three other men to start a videotape department. Now I don’t know if you all know what videotape is, videotape is how you record a show. In the old days, everything went live–all television was live. If you fell down, if you had flubbed, if you forgot your lines–the people saw it. The only recording they made was a thing called a kinescope, which was a 16mm recording of a three-inch television tube with a picture on it. The reason for the three-inch tube was that it was very sharp. It had good image, and that they didn’t edit because they couldn’t afford it. It was a great way to be able to send the same show to Hawaii–for instance–Des Moines, or to whoever didn’t have access to the network at that particular time. The wonderful thing about videotape–well, audiotape, you can record and play it right back, same with videotape. I won’t go into any details about it, the difference basically between the early videotape and the audiotape is that the videotape is two inches wide, not a quarter of an inch. The reason for the two inches–you had more information to put on it. You didn’t just have sound, you had picture. So that’s what I did, I helped start the videotape department–figured out how to edit it–and stayed there for seven years.

Ana: How many people were involved in this?

Mr. Murray: How many people were in the videotape department?

Ana: Making the videotape.

Mr. Murray: We started out with four people and one machine. By the time I left, we had sixty people, twenty-five machines. It was a big department and the wonderful thing was, if they did a soap opera at nine o’clock in the morning in New York, you could also play back that same soap opera at nine o’clock Los Angeles time. You couldn’t do that before, because if you played the show at nine o’clock New York time, it was six o’clock here. So it was very difficult for people who wanted to see a particular show at the same time the New York people saw it. This was the beauty of videotape. You had instantaneous, almost instantaneous, recording and playback. Then the difficulty was figuring out how to edit it. If you can’t see a picture, how do you know where to cut? But that was figured out, anyway, and I did that for seven years. I became the supervisor, assistant supervisor, but after seven years I was tired of it. I went up to my boss, and I said, "I want out." He let me out because I had other skills. I knew how to edit audiotape and music. So I went on the Danny Kaye Show. Anybody ever hear of Danny Kaye?

Gabe: Uh–uh.

Mr. Murray: OK (laughs).

Gabe: Who was he? (Laughs).

Mrs. Murray: A brilliant comedian.

Mr. Murray: Anyway, I was on the Danny Kaye Show for four years, after which I did Red Skelton. Anybody ever hear of Red Skelton?

Gabe: Nope.

Mr. Murray: Ever hear of Carol Burnett?

Gabe: Yeah, actually I have.

Mr. Murray: After that I did Carol Burnett–I did Carol Burnett for nine years. I was in sound effects. The difference between television sound effects and radio sound effects, you see what’s happening on television.

Mrs. Murray: Do a body fall.

Mr. Murray: (Laughs) You serious? The thing–the thing about tele–the difference between television and sound effects and radio sound effects–you see what’s happening on television. But on television sometimes you have to add sound effects to help the impression. You can see somebody rolling down the stairs on television, but you can’t hear it because it’s tough to hear it, (does an impression of a body fall), so you just–you–you do the body–you have a big prop table and you can do the sound. Body falls.

Daniel: Could you tell us about your, uh, coverage of the Olympics?

Mr. Murray: Yes! That was one of the most wonderful, wonderful things that I did while I was a videotape editor. CBS was the first network to do editing of a videotape for the Olympics. This was 1960, and uh–

Mrs. Murray: Squaw Valley–

Mr. Murray:–at Squaw Valley, right and uh, we all went up to Squaw Valley and set up the equipment. I had two videotape machines and one maintenance man. That was the whole videotape crew. Two machines, one editor, and one maintenance man. The good thing about apart from the fun of doing it, the good thing was that the technical man, the technical advisor for CBS was an ice skater named Dick Button who was an Olympiad himself, he won–I think he won in ’32 and ’36, I’m not sure. But it was either one or both of those shows. Because I had ice-skated in the movies, some of Sonja Henie pictures, we had friends in common. And uh, he helped enormously when it came to figuring out who might be a winner. One of the assignments I had was to have the first six winners ready for show two hours after the competition ended. In other words I had to go through two hours of tape and find the first six, unfortunately. And we had set this up earlier in November of the previous year at a meeting, because only the editor knew how much time it took to do things, because it was still a brand new medium. Nobody knew too much about videotape. Anyway, uh, they cut my time down to an hour. They wanted the first six in an hour so I called Dick Button. And he told me who he thought would be the first six and since I had two machines, every time I came to one of those numbers I finished it, stopped the machine, let the other one go and wound that particular performance. And by the time the competition was over, he’d given me all six.

Mrs. Murray: To be shown on the air.

Mr. Murray: To be shown on the air, yeah. And, uh, I was able to put the whole thing together in about a half-an-hour and not tell master control that I was done. I kept him waiting ’til two minutes before air because they cut my time. They never did it again.

Ana: What was the McCarthy era like?

Mr. Murray: The McCarthy era was one of the saddest eras in my life. Because I was interested from the time I was a child–I think I mentioned before that I was reading the newspapers very early–I can remember the presidential campaign of 1928; who was in it, what was said. I remember the campaigns of ’32 and ’36. I remember them. I didn’t just read them. I remembered them. Anyway, I was very disturbed when this gentleman–this senator from Wisconsin named Joseph McCarthy, tried to make a reputation as a Communist-hunter, by smearing a lot of nice people. And I took issue with it. You know–just among my friends, and on the shows I worked. I was working a particular show called The Cisco Kid, which was a show outside of CBS. This was extra money. This I did on my day off, and the routine was we would come to work, we–everybody would sit at a table, just about like this, and we’d mark out script and we’d talk; drink coffee, and talk politics, talk sex, talk sports, you know–just talk. And when the talk came to McCarthy I was always…anti. At the same time–there, doing The Cisco Kid–I was also writing my scripts in the evening and one night, it was about 11:00–oh, there were three men assigned, three–oh, not assigned, but three guys that did The Cisco Kid, because with Cisco and Pancho riding horseback you had to have at least two (makes horse galloping noise) to do the horses, and the other fellow did the recording stuff: trains, river, rain, whatever. The head soundman, a feller named Jim–and he and I had a lot in common–he had been a pilot in World War II. He came to my house one night at 11:00 and he said, "I’ve got some bad news for you, you’re going to be kicked off The Cisco Kid show, because the guy who plays Cisco says you’re communist." Now that in itself–OK so he thinks I’m a communist. So? I don’t care. You know–

Gabe: I know what a communist means, but could you explain to everybody what–exactly that a communist is.

Mr. Murray: A communist is a person who is anti-American; who is a disciple of Karl Marx, who believed in the Russian form of government, and who was intent on destroying the United States. That close enough?

Gabe: Mm-hmm.

Mr. Murray: You got it (laughs). And it was all bull, you know. Anyway, Jim said, "You’re going to get kicked off the show primarily because the director says he just wants to keep peace in the family." In other words to keep peace in the family he was ready to destroy somebody’s life, because if I got kicked off that show–the way things worked in those days, and, Joyce knows about that, you get kicked off this show, the next show says, "Oh, he must be a bad guy, I’m going to kick him off my show, too," and right down the line and pretty soon you are out, and Jim knew better. Jim knew what I was, and I knew what Jim was, we were both pilots in World War II. We cared. We decided on a ploy, a gimmick. He went back to talk to the director and he said, "Here’s what we are going to do. Ross will no longer sit at the table. Ross is going to come in earlier, go behind the equipment, because there was a prop table and a big triple turntable, and a house door and a whole bunch of stuff. He says he’ll mark his script there and nobody is going to see him. Lets see if Jack just forgets about him," and he did. For months, months, I’d come in, mark my script. When the time came to perform, the actors got up, and looked at the booth where the mixer was, the sound effects was behind them; they never looked back, they looked ahead, so he didn’t–wasn’t even aware I was even there. I never said a word. However, about six months later there was a big trial, Joe McCarthy was put on trial for many things besides being a liar and this particular guy who wanted me–who wanted me kicked off the show said, "That jerk McCarthy," and when he said that, I got up and I walked out, and I asked him outside, but he wouldn’t come and he said he was sorry and that was it. It could have been disastrous, it could have been disastrous, and history, history of the last forty-five years has proven that Mr. McCarthy was a fraud. Russia’s a fraud. Look what happened to them–paper tigers. They have always been a paper tiger, and people who are on the inside knew it, but that’s politics.

Gabe: Uh, huh.

Ana: Uh, huh. Why did you move to Anderson Valley?

Mr. Murray: I moved to Anderson Valley because Joyce and I went to visit a friend, a man that I had known for many years, who was in the motion picture business, and he had retired up here. But we met him at somebody’s wedding in Los Angeles, and he said, "You’ve got to come visit." He said, "It’s so pretty up there," and his daughter and his son-in-law lived here, so on one of our trips, we stopped in, and fell in love with the Anderson Valley. So much so, that even though we were already buying a piece of property, a piece of retirement property near Santa Barbara, we gave that up and came here. And that was twenty years ago.

Ana: What do you think about the people here?

Mr. Murray: About what?

Ana: What do you think about the people here?

Mr. Murray: If I didn’t like the people here, I wouldn’t have lived here for twenty years. I think overall–now look, no place is perfect, but overall this little Valley has the greatest percentage of nice people that I’ve ever seen in my life. There are more people willing to help; there are more people community—minded. This is a very nice place for old people. This is also a nice place for young people who really care about getting an education. I don’t expect the young people to stay here, but I think a lot of the young people that are going to school here and living here, will leave and will come back. This place is hard–this kind of place is very hard to find. Very hard to find.

Gabe: Tell us about the clucking hen story.

Mr. Murray: The what?

Gabe: The clucking hen story.

Mr. Murray: I forgot that one. I really forgot that clucking hen story. Can anybody help me with that? I can’t remember that story. That’s what happens when you get old. I really can’t remember. Oh–I know what it is. I know what it–talking about loving this place, it was the first year that we were here. We went to the Fair and twenty years ago they had a rather large, ah, building housing the champion chickens. All different breeds of chickens, you know, just–and there were just hundreds of chickens. And Joyce and I walked in there and I looked around. It was very quiet, the chickens were resting and I decided to do a chicken. I decided to do a hen in trouble, (laughing) and the house–the chicken house just exploded; the chickens went crazy. And the roosters were crowing, (laughing).

Mrs. Murray: And the sound–you made a sound (laughing).

Mr. Murray: Yeah, yeah.

Gabe: Could you, ah, do the chicken noise for us?

Mr. Murray: I don’t know if I can do ’em anymore, the old voice–cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, clack! (laughing).

Gabe: That’s good enough.

Mr. Murray: That’s the–that’s the clucking hen story.

Ana: Well…

Mr. Murray: Yes?

Ana: Um, just quick, can you tell us what was the most significant event in your life?

Mr. Murray: I’ve had a lot of significant events in my life. I’ve done a lot of interesting things. I’ve been to a lot of interesting places, but I think the most significant event in my life was meeting my present wife. (Everyone sighs). Now nobody’s going to play hearts and flowers, OK? (Laughing). But I tell ya, it’s the truth. Um, Joyce and I met on the Carol Burnett Show. See I don’t know–

Mrs. Murray:–they don’t know Carol Burnett.

Mrs. Murray: No, they know Carol Burnett. He knows Carol Burnett. (Nods towards Gabe).

Ms. Murray: In studio 33.

Mr. Murray: And um, I was standing talking to a gentleman while we were watching the crowd come in, and we were checking the crowd, so to speak. What young men or middle—aged men ordinarily do. And um, he pointed at this young lady over on the right side with a rather solemn, solemn face. And he made mention the fact that this is, uh, a very solemn looking girl. And I said "Well, I don’t know if she’s–she looks maybe like she is unhappy." He said, "Well, why don’t you go over there and make her happy."(Laughing). And I said, "Hey, that’s a good idea." And I walked over and all I did was–I had seen Joyce before because this was two years after I was on the show, and I had seen Joyce before, but I never did really get to talk to her, and I walked over and introduced myself–we spoke for a few minutes, or one minute, I guess. And that’s it. And we spoke again a week later. And at the third week I asked her if she wanted to have a drink with me after the show, and, um, she accepted. And that’s it, folks. Ah, it took me fourteen months to talk her into getting married. But, ah, it was worth it. And it’s been twenty-seven years now. Uh, that’s it. That’s the most significant thing I’ve done in my life, because it has changed my life completely. Because it was only seven years after we married that I retired.

Ana: She was an Andrews sister?

Mr. Murray: Yes uh, I don’t know if anybody here remembers the Andrews Sisters, the singers–Joyce was a singer and started in 1950 on the Fred Waring Show on CBS. And, uh, then she sang on Perry Como Show for three years and the Gary Moore Show a for five years and the Dinah Shore Show. By the way, interesting coincidence, you heard me say before that I was Danny Kaye’s soundman for four years–she sang on that show for a year, we never met. Interesting, it just–our paths never crossed and we didn’t really meet until as I say, many years later.

Mrs. Murray: But the Andrew Sisters, I filled in when one sister died.

Mr. Murray: Yes.

Mrs. Murray: Because there were three original Andrews Sisters–"Boogie, Woogie Bugle Boy."….

Mr. Murray: And they were the biggest trio. They were really big-time. They sold more records–Andrews Sisters and Bing Crosby sold more records than anybody in the ’40s.

Mrs. Murray: But then I joined them after a sister died, so I wasn’t a real Andrews sister, but I pretended to be. I just went out there and sang with them.

Mr. Murray:–and that’s the story of my life.

Gabe: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Murray.

Mr. Murray: Thank you for asking me, I–it’s a pleasure, it’s a pleasure.