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Brittany Murphy bio
Brittany Murphy (November 10, 1977 – December 20, 2009 as Brittany Anne Bertolotti), was an American film and stage actress, singer, and voice artist. Murphy, a native of Atlanta, moved to Los Angeles as a teenager, and pursued a career in acting. Her breakthrough role was in Amy Heckerling‘s Clueless (1995), followed by supporting roles in independent films such as Freeway (1996) and Bongwater (1998).
She made her stage debut in a Broadway production of Arthur Miller‘s A View from the Bridge in 1997, and then appeared in James Mangold‘s drama Girl, Interrupted (1999), as well as the satire Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999).
The 2000s saw Murphy with roles in Don’t Say a Word (2001) alongside Michael Douglas, and alongside Eminem in Curtis Hanson‘s 8 Mile (2002), for which she gained critical recognition. Her later roles included Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), the dark comedy crime film Spun (2002), Uptown Girls (2003) alongside Dakota Fanning, Sin City (2005), and Happy Feet (2006). Murphy also voiced Luanne Platter on the animated TV series King of the Hill. Her final film, Something Wicked, was released in April 2014.
Murphy attended Verne Fowler School of Dance and Theatre Arts in Colonia, New Jersey, in 1982. From the age of four, she trained in singing, dancing, and acting until her move to California at thirteen. Murphy made her Broadway debut in 1997, as Catherine, in a revival of Arthur Miller‘s A View from the Bridge opposite veteran actors Anthony LaPaglia and Allison Janney.
Murphy landed her first job in Hollywood when she was thirteen, starring as Brenda Drexell in the series Drexell’s Class. She then went on to play Molly Morgan in the short-lived The Torkelsons spinoff Almost Home. Murphy also guest-starred on several television series, including Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, Blossom, seaQuest 2032, Murder One and Frasier. She also had recurring roles on Sister, Sister, Party of Five and Boy Meets World.
Murphy’s breakthrough role was in her second feature film, the teen comedy Clueless (1995), directed by Amy Heckerling, which went on to receive cult status. She followed this with roles in Freeway (1996), with Reese Witherspoon and Kiefer Sutherland, and the independent comedy Bongwater (1998). In 1999, she landed a supporting role in James Mangold‘s Girl, Interrupted (1999) as a troubled psychiatric patient alongside Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie; and as an aspiring beauty queen in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999). She also voiced the character Luanne Platter on Fox‘s animated sitcom King of the Hill for the entirety of the show’s run from 1997 to 2009, and Joseph Gribble until the fifth season. She was nominated for an Annie Award for voice acting in the King of the Hill episode “Movin’ On Up“.
She began the 2000s with a leading role in Don’t Say a Word (2001) alongside Michael Douglas; the TV adaptation of the novel The Devil’s Arithmetic (2001); 8 Mile (2002), for which she received critical acclaim; and Uptown Girls (2003). In 2003, she starred in the romantic comedies Just Married and Little Black Book (2004) and the critically acclaimed Sin City (2005). Film critic Roger Ebert frequently acclaimed Murphy’s acting talent and comedic timing, giving good reviews to several of her films and comparing her to Lucille Ball:
As for Brittany Murphy, for me, it goes back to the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards [where] Murphy was assigned to present one of the awards. Her task was to read the names of the five nominees, open an envelope, and reveal the name of the winner. This she turned into an opportunity for screwball improvisational comedy, by pretending she could not follow this sequence, not even after the audience shouted instructions and the stage manager came to whisper in her ear not once but twice. There were those in the audience who were dumbfounded by her stupidity. I was dumbfounded by her brilliance.
Murphy followed with several independent films, including as Spun (2002), Neverwas (2005), and Karen Moncrieff‘s The Dead Girl (2006), as well as two Edward Burns films: Sidewalks of New York (2001) and The Groomsmen (2006). She returned to voice acting with the critically acclaimed 2006 animated feature Happy Feet, as Gloria Penguin. In 2009, she was cast in the Lifetime TV movie Tribute, as the main character, Cilla. Murphy completed the thriller/drama Abandoned in June 2009 and it was released in 2010, after her death. In November 2009, Murphy left the production of The Caller, which was being filmed in Puerto Rico, and was replaced by Rachelle Lefevre. Murphy denied media reports that she had been fired from the project after being difficult on set, and cited “creative differences”. Something Wicked, her final film, is scheduled to be released in 2014.
Murphy’s career also included work as a singer. She commented: “My singing voice isn’t like my speaking voice…I’ve just always kept it a secret and never taken credit because I wanted to learn how to work behind the microphone in a recording studio, and some of the singers don’t even know it was me recording on their albums.”
She was in a band called Blessed Soul with fellow actor Eric Balfour in the early 1990s. On June 6, 2006, Murphy and Paul Oakenfold released the single “Faster Kill Pussycat“, from the album A Lively Mind. The song became a club hit, and hit number one on Billboard ’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. It also hit number seven in Oakenfold’s native United Kingdom in June 2006.She dabbled in music again with the release of the film Happy Feet, in which she covered Queen‘s “Somebody to Love” and Earth, Wind & Fire‘s “Boogie Wonderland“. Murphy said about her character Gloria, “Oddly enough, of all the characters I’ve played, Gloria is the most like me. And she’s a penguin! George Miller always wanted one person to do both [the speaking and the singing]. I said, ‘I can sing,’ and I asked him to give me a shot. I don’t think he took me very seriously because most actors say they can do most things.”