In Honor of Groundhog Day: 5 Hilarious Times Bill Murray Made Someone’s Day a Little Extra
The actor loves going out of his way for strangers, and he does so with a wicked sense of humor.
A Hollywood veteran if ever there was one, Bill Murray, 72, has starring roles in Hollywood and cult movies like Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, Rushmore, Scrooged, The Life Aquatic, and so many more. He is also famous for his earlier television work, such as when he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the earliest days of the pioneering sketch comedy show.
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Murray has been married two times (he is not married at present), has six children, his own line golf clothing, William Murray Golf (he launched the company with his brother, Joel, in 2016), he earned a Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and, in short, he is a man who has every right to sit on his laurels and enjoy the life of wealth and comfort he has created for himself over the years.
But far hiding out far from the regular folks of the world, Murray takes obvious pleasure in charming, surprising, amusing, and sometimes simply helping random strangers. Which is all the more surprising given the fact that, for many years, Bill Murray developed a reputation for being temperamental and sometimes outright abusive on set. Let’s first take a look at the darker side of Murray, because it makes his good deeds shine all the brighter.
Bill Murray’s Alleged Reputation on Sets
Murray has calmed down a lot in his older age, to be sure. But in the 1970s and 1980s, he was known for mood swings, violent outbursts, fits of rage and swearing, and even getting into physical altercations on the set of shows and movies. He famously came to blows with actor and comedian Chevy Chase on the set of SNL in 1978, per Biography, and the two men would remain in a cold feud for several years to come.
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Murray was eventually nicknamed The Murricaine for his outbursts while working on projects, though later in life Murray would say his reputation was unfair. Per the Sioux City Journal, Murray says of his rap, “I only got that reputation from people I didn’t like working with, or people who didn’t know how to work, or what work is. Jim [Jarmusch], Wes [Anderson], and Sophia [Coppola], they know what it is to work, and they understand how you’re supposed to treat people.”
Deserved or not back in the day, those who meet Murray these days find a man quite unlike that image from the past.
Why Bill Murray Loves Doing Nice Things for Regular Folks
Bill Murray has bucked the star life. Despite his success and wealth (he has five homes), Murray does not use a Hollywood agent or manager, he eschews most awards shows and other events, and he clearly enjoys the quiet life more than the spotlight.
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Where Murray does clearly love being the center of the attention is when he is surrounded only by small groups of ordinary people in environments unlikely to merit them even being recorded. He wants the attention of a small group of people who will be left with a great little memory that’s just for them. It’s like he’s the opposite of a wannabe influencer: his little moments with people are just for those involved, not for the masses.
Fortunately, a number of those moments have been captured or at least recounted, so we can share a few of them with you today.
Bill Murray Serenades a 90-Year-Old Woman
When Bill Murray was asked to pose with a 94-year-old woman named Grandma Wible, he did the charming elderly lady and her family one better. It was at a basketball game at Baylor University when Grandma Wible’s familymembers told him it was her birthday and she’d love a photo.
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Per the Des Moines Register, Murray said he’d be happy to stand for a picture, but also thought she needed a song. The actor then proceeded to sing “Happy Birthday” to Grandma Wible, delighting the woman on her special day.
Bill Murray Joins a Wedding Shoot and a Kickball Game
Per a moment shared via Vanity Fair, in 2014, a South Carolina couple got a very unique engagement photo session when none other than Bill Murray joined in. The comedian just happened to be walking by the shoot and stopped to goof off a bit to make the young couple smile. When they asked Murray to join in, he happily obliged, standing in for several photos with a wry half-smile on his face.
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A little more than a decade ago, in 2012, Bill Murray snuck his way into a New York City kickball game, according to Gothamist. While out for a day in the park with his younger sons, Murray spotted some youths (20-somethings) playing kickball.
He sidled over, asked for a turn at the plate, and ended up joining the game for about 10 minutes before he just as suddenly shuffled off again.
Bill Murray’s Karaoke Surprise
Sure, many people saw Bill Murray sing Karaoke in the 2003 film Lost in Translation, but very few saw him singing karaoke in a New York City bar in 2011.
That’s because Murray randomly appeared in the room where a number of drunken revelers were singing their hearts out. This time, rather than popping in for a minute then disappearing, per Huff Post, Murray actually stayed with the party for the rest of the evening out, singing song after song and enjoying several rounds of drinks. One of the people who was there that evening later said: “We were all shocked of course but at that point we were already pretty trashed so the party just kept going. He was super nice and they all fit right in.”
Bill Murray Tends Bar in Texas
While in Austin, TX for the SXSW festival in 2010, Bill Murray struck up a quick kinship with a local bartender. Returning to the same bar after the first chat with the man, Murray was delighted when the bartender jokingly asked him if he wanted to come around and tend the bar with him, per Vulture.
The actor began serving drinks with gusto to the charmed and surprised patrons, though apparently he only served one drink: tequila. Per Laughing Squid, no matter what people ordered, from a beer to a cocktail to a glass of wine, he would just serve them a shot of tequila. As a video from the moment makes clear, no one seemed to mind too much that the Ghostbuster had mixed up their orders, they were just happy for Bill Freakin’ Murray to be slinging their drinks.
Murray proves that little acts of kindness, such as showing up when invited or surprising others with a kickball challenge, really matter. And in the case of these recipients can cause a ripple effect of happiness.