Murf’s Oscar

Academy Trade Paper Collection Named for A. D. Murphy

Highly placed among Variety’s legendary figures, A.D.Murphy (Murf.) was the sheet’s best ever numbers guy. Now he’s been officially recognised by Hollywood for his years of calling the game at the daily.

Art Murphy
Art Murphy

Here’s what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, to which Murf left his estate, put out in a press release August 24, 2005.

Beverly Hills, CA — The massive collection of trade papers held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library has been named in honor of longtime trade paper reporter A. D. Murphy, who became famous for his mathematical analysis of boxoffice figures. Murphy died in 2003.

The A. D. Murphy Trade Paper Archive was dedicated yesterday afternoon (8/24) at a reception at the library, attended by many of Murphy’s friends and co-workers from his 30-year career at Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. 

Newly elected Academy President Sid Ganis said that Murphy left his estate to the Academy’s library, a gift he characterized as “in excess of half a million dollars.” The gift will be used to support and maintain the Herrick’s archive of trade papers, many of them in fragile condition and requiring specialized archival care.

While the journals in the library’s collection include today’s familiar trades — VarietyThe Hollywood Reporter and Screen International — a number of other titles are included, most of which have long since ceased publication. Among them are Film Daily, Motion Picture Daily, Hollywood Filmograph, Moving Picture World, Motography, Kine Weekly and Bioscope. The earliest trade journal on the library’s shelves is Volume 1, No. 1 of Views and Films Index from April, 1906.

“This is one of our most-widely used collections,” said Margaret Herrick Library Director Linda Harris Mehr. “The trade papers constitute the daily record of the motion picture industry, its most detailed history.”

Mehr said that income from the Murphy bequest has been placed in the endowment that supports the library, and that the income it generates will be used, among other things, to perform special conservation work on older trade journals that had previously been bound using non-archival techniques. “We’re very excited about this gift,” Mehr said. “It will enable us to better preserve a vital resource that is absolutely essential to understanding film history.”

Past Academy President Richard Kahn, a Murphy friend of many years, said the reporter had become a fan of the library after a tour given him by Mehr in 1998.

Murphy was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, graduated from the college of Holy Cross in that city and had a ten-year career in the Navy before entering the field of entertainment journalism. He spent nearly 30 years at Variety in a number of positions before moving to The Hollywood Reporter in 1993.

Murphy became a part-time instructor at the University of Southern California’s Division of Cinema-Television in 1974, and in 1979 founded the Peter Stark Motion Picture Producing Program at USC.