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Charles "Chic" Murray (6 November 1919 - 29 January 1985) was a comedian and actor. He was born Charles Thomas McKinnon Murray in Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland.

He appeared in various roles on British television and film, notably in the 1967 version of Casino Royale; and he portrayed Bill Shankly in a musical. In 2005, Murray was named in The Comedian's Comedian.

Contents

Life and career

Chic Murray began an apprenticeship in engineering at Kincaid's shipyard in 1934, whilst employing his musical talents in amateur groups such as "The Whinhillbillies" and "Chic and His Chicks". He formed a double-act with his wife, Maidie Dickson. Billed as "The Tall Droll with the Small Doll" (and also as "Maidie and Murray") their combination of jokes and songs made them a popular attraction on television and in theatres throughout the country. She was 4'11" tall and he was 6' 3" tall. The peak of their success was in 1956 when they were selected to appear in the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium, but because of the Suez Crisis, this show was cancelled.

Later, working as a solo act, with a forbidding expression and omnipresent "bunnet", Chic offered a comic vision of the world that was absurd, surreal and absolutely unique. One example of this was the BBC Scotland series of the early 70s "Chic's Chat", where his version of acting as DJ for the (occasional) records he played was unquestionably unique. The show also featured hilarious and surreal dialogues with a "man at the window" of his studio - played by Willie Joss - who invariably referred to Murray by the name of "Chips". Another was his eccentrically decorated Hotel in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh, which did not outlive the 70s.

Much-mimicked and much-loved by his fellow professionals, he acted in films such as Casino Royale (1967) and Gregory's Girl (1980) (in which he played a Scottish secondary school headmaster). He also played Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly in the musical play You'll Never Walk Alone. Just prior to the show opening, Murray claimed to have telephoned the switchboard at Anfield using his Shankly voice, causing the receptionist - who had worked there in the Shankly years - to burst into tears on hearing the great man's voice once more. (1984). Murray also appeared in a cameo role in a few episodes of STV's soap Take The High Road as an itinerant poacher (1984) and alongside Judi Dench in Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983). He died in Edinburgh in 1985 at the age of sixty-five.

Legacy

  • In 2005, Murray was named in The Comedian's Comedian, a poll where comedians chose their own favourite or most influential comedian.
  • Neither Here Nor There is a BBC Radio 2 programme about Murray's life, originally broadcast in August 2007.

Further reading

Robbie Grigor, Just Daft: The Chic Murray Story (Birlinn) 2008 ISBN 1-84158-755-9

Andrew Yule, The Best Way to Walk: The Chic Murray Story (Mainstream Publishing) 1989 ISBN 1-85158-218-5

Andrew Yule, The Best Way to Laugh: The Chic Murray Bumper Fun Book (Corgi) 1991 ISBN 0-552-13854-1

External links

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