Audie Murphy’s career as a Hollywood star includes accolades of him being a national hero and a sterling actor. Murphy was also known for his tumultuous marriages and how his second wife stood by him despite their issues.
Audie Murphy was done with his days as a decorated soldier in the second world war and making a mark in classic Hollywood when he met famous actress Wanda Hendrix.
It is safe to say that he did not exactly meet her the first time. He had seen her on the cover page of the Coronet magazine and wanted to know her better. Her striking features instantly smote Murphy, and in no time, he arranged a meeting with her.
Picture of Wanda Hendrix and Audie Murphy on a US lobbycard, circa 1950 | Source: Getty Images
Theirs was a mutual connection, and by February 1949, they headed down the aisle to become man and wife. The duo took on the semblance of a power couple starring in movies, but this was short-lived due to their marital woes.
Murphy suffered post-traumatic stress disorder due to his time in the world war. He experienced flashbacks from the war and wanted his wife to quit her career. Murphy, who kept his gun close, would often hold her at gunpoint when they had disagreements.
Actor Audie Murphy poses for a portrait in circa 1957.| Source : Getty Images
Hendrix got fed up and left their marital home after seven months. She later legalized their separation in 1950. The buzz around their dramatic marriage and divorce affected her career, but Hendrix stood firm, starring in movies until the late 1970s.
MURPHY’S ESCAPADES AND SECOND MARRIAGE
Portrait of American actor Audie Murphy, circa 1950s | Source: Getty Images
After his marriage with Hendrix ended, Murphy became notorious for his womanizing. The star was involved in random affairs with actresses. One of his notable rendezvous was with actress Peggy Castle, which lasted a month before fizzling.
Murphy’s co-star and friend, Jack Elam, once shared that the actor liked girls and often pursued them with “a flaming passion for a few days.” Elam stated that his feelings for each conquest would wither after a few weeks.
Actor Audie Murphy with his wife Pamela Archer, one of their sons and a pet dog, circa 1955. | Source: Getty Images
However, the public saw a different side when he met Pamela Archer, hostess supervisor for Braniff Airlines. Archer had a crush on him, and she was able to meet him after a Braniff pilot, who was a mutual friend, introduced them.
The two hung out, and Murphy fell for her. Archer preferred a quiet, homely life, away from the Hollywood parties, glitz, and glamour. This seemed to be the perfect match because this was what Murphy always wanted.
Audie Murphy poses wife Pamela Archer and sons Terry and James in Perris, California, circa 1954 | Source: Getty Images
With Archer, his skirt-chasing days were over, and four days after his divorce with Hendrix was finalized, he married her. The couple opted for a small ceremony at Dallas’s Highland Park methodist church.
Murphy found love in Archer’s arms, but this was also deeply troubled like his first marriage. The actor battled deep trauma from his time as a war hero. He was described as a haunted man who suffered insomnia and recurring nightmares.
Picture Audie Murphy holding his son Terry Michael Murphy while filming the movie “To Hell and Back” on October 04, 1954 | Source: Getty Images
Murphy would often see faceless men chasing him in his sleep, and this paranoia caused him to keep his gun so close. The “To Hell and Back” actor was disturbed by sounds limited to his ears, and he inadvertently converted his home garage into a bedroom.
Murphy started taking tranquilizers to ease his troubles, but he only got addicted to those. Seeing that this was eating him up, he threw away the pills and locked himself in a hotel room until the withdrawal symptoms waned.
Audie Murphy and wife Pamela Archer attend the movie premiere “Back From Hell” on October 11, 1955 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
The star continued his career, but his roles became less notable. Murphy started gambling, investing in real estate, and breeding horses. This led him into a dire situation, and in 1968, he declared bankruptcy.
He was recognized for his bravery in the war, but Murphy could hardly maintain good standing. Two years after going bankrupt, he and a friend got arrested for beating up a dog trainer.
MURPHY PASSES ON
Studio portrait of actor Audie Murphy, circa 1955 | Source: Getty Images
On June 1, 1971, Murphy was in the news after it was reported that an airplane en route to Martinsville had crashed. The plane was said to have crashed near Virginia, and the unburned tail assembly number matched the one he earlier boarded.
It was reported that the plane was carrying Murphy and five other passengers, including the pilot. A search party launched into action bringing up three bodies from the aircraft and three others around the wreckage.
Audie Murphy poses with sons Terry and James circa 1954 in Perris, California | Source: Getty Images
According to the state police, a drizzle had occurred around their landing area when the pilot last radioed that he would land at Roanoke’s Wood Field. Murphy was traveling with the others to inspect a Martinsville plant for investment.
Besides Murphy, the crash victims included businessmen Clause Crosby, Jack Little, Raymond Pater, and Kim Dodey. According to Modular management sales executive Bill Spoon, Murphy has represented himself and two other prospective investors.
American actor Audie Murphy as Captain Bruce Coburn, and Robert Brubaker as Sergeant Walker, in ’40 Guns To Apache Pass’, directed by William Witney, circa 1967 | Source: Getty Images
In death, the Hollywood star was remembered as one of the most decorated army officers of the second world war. His remains were laid to rest at Arlington National cemetery. Murphy was 46 at the time of death.
At the time, Army Chief of Staff William Westmoreland attended the funeral and paid his final respects. President Richard Nixon issued a statement reading that Murphy “epitomized the gallantry in the action of America’s fighting men.”
American actor and war hero Audie Murphy (1925 – 1971) stars as Captain Bruce Coburn of the US Army in the film ’40 Guns to Apache Pass,’ 1967. | Source : Getty Images
Murphy was survived by his wife and two children, and his death wreaked havoc on his family. At the time of death, he had a considerable debt to settle. This forced Archer to move out of their sprawling home in Van Huy.
Even with the unfortunate situation, Archer defended her late spouse and the man she deeply loved. She moved into a small apartment and worked as a clerk.
Audie Murphy and wife Pamela Archer attend the Colgate TV event at Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles,CA. | Source: Getty Images
Archer also took it upon herself to pay off Murphy’s debts. It took her ten years to settle it all, but she did. Because of the tight financial situation, Archer could barely visit Murphy’s gravesite.
She asked a close friend to drop flowers at the gravesite each time it was Veterans’ day. Archer lived until she was 87 and passed on peacefully in her sleep.