Bill Murray receives national Mark Twain Prize


Tomorrow night Public Television stations will broadcast Sunday’s Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Bill Murray for his unique blend of comedy and social commentary.  The Mark Twain Prize, first given to Richard Pryor in 1998, is the nation’s top honor for comedians.  Everything’s coming up roses for Murray this week as his favorite team the Chicago Cubs gained their first win of this year’s World Series, and Murray was a trending topic for a photo he took in Scotland in 2012 wailing with a toddler–a photo mistaken for Tom Hanks by many.

The 2016 awards event features Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver, and David Letterman, among several other celebrities mildly roasting the actor/comedian/golfer/celebrity and saluting his work.  In the show Murray gives his own salute to one of his five brothers, the well-known character actor Brian Doyle-Murray.  Two other brothers, Joel and John, are also actors.

So what’s Murray’s best work?  Is it his classic comedy skits or Weekend Update work on Saturday Night Live?  Or his assistant groundskeeper from Caddyshack?  What about his Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters?  You can’t forget his Army soldier John Winger in Stripes.  Or how about his weatherman in Groundhog Day?


Murray is known for continuing to surprise us.  Like when he earned an Academy Award nomination for his drama Lost in Translation, when he played Dustin Hoffman’s friend in the Oscar winning Tootsie, and when he gave us his own take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Scrooged, portraying FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson, and a war hero in Monuments Men.

Even in his early roles, like his camp counselor in Meatballs, Murray became someone fans couldn’t help but love.  And what about all the odd people Murray has played on the big screen, like his roles in The Razor’s Edge, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel?  He’s voiced characters Like Garfield the cat, Badger in Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Baloo in The Jungle Book.  He’ll pop up briefly and help out other filmmakers in shows like Square Pegs, Little Shop of Horrors, Ed Wood, City of Ember, Zombieland, Dumb and Dumber To, Parks and Recreation, and Angie Tribeca.  And he’ll take the commercial role from time to time, such as characters in shows like Charlie’s Angels and Get Smart.


Look for the Mark Twain Prize tribute to Bill Murray tomorrow night on PBS.  Check your local listings for air times.

C.J. Bunce

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