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Wild Facts About Bill Murray We Just Learned That Made Us Say 'Really?'

Updated September 24, 2021 1.5k votes 261 voters 17.8k views12 items

List RulesVote up the wildest facts about Bill Murray that make you say, 'Whoa!'

Bill Murray is well known for his work in tons of films, including Caddyshack, Ghostbustersand Scrooged - but what he's done off screen might not be so familiar. From getting caught smuggling weed through an airport to owning multiple minor league baseball teams, Murray and his life are anything but normal.

These facts about Bill Murray show that he can be just as quirky in real life as he is on the screen. Vote up the ones that really surprise you.

  • While filming the final matchup between Big Ern (Murray) and Roy Munson (Woody Harrelson) in the 1996 film Kingpin, Murray legitimately bowled a "turkey," or three strikes in a row.

    Director Bobby Farrelly recalled the moment, filmed before an audience at a bowling center:

    [I told the audience]: "It’s the last frame, he needs a turkey here. And so on the first one, you guys clap big, and then the second one, you clap bigger, and on the third one, you explode because he needs all three." 

    Of course, Bill gets up there: first one, strike. Everybody goes nuts. Second one, strike... Third one, strike. Three in a row. They were really blown away. Like, Bill just threw three strikes in a row when he had to and they erupted. It was not fake at all.

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  • Photo: Jules Breton / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    A Piece Of Art Convinced Him Not To Take His Own Life

    In 2014, when Murray was 64, he opened up about having thoughts early on in his career about taking his own life. The revelation came to light while he was at the National Gallery in London for the release of the 2014 film The Monuments MenMurray discussed how he felt after his first onstage performance in his native Chicago:

    I was so bad, I just walked out on the street and started walking. I walked for a couple of hours and I realized I had walked the wrong direction - not just the wrong direction in terms of where I lived, but the wrong direction in terms of a desire to stay alive.

    He then found himself in front of the Art Institute of Chicago and decided to walk inside. That's when he saw The Song of the Lark, an 1884 painting by French artist Jules Adolphe Breton that shows a peasant woman standing in a field with a sunrise behind her. Murray recalled:

    I just thought, "Well, there’s a girl who doesn’t have a lot of prospects, but the sun is coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance at it." So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I, too, am a person and get another chance every day the sun comes up. 

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  • 3

    He Quit Comedy Once To Study Philosophy And History In Paris

    The box office flop The Razor's Edge was very close to Murray's heart. He co-wrote the script and had to persuade Columbia Pictures to finance the film by agreeing to star in Ghostbusters. When The Razor's Edge did so poorly and Murray had held up his end of the bargain by completing Ghostbusters, he quit acting. As he explains:

    I kept thinking to myself, "Ten days ago I was up there working with the high lamas in a gompa, and here I am removing ghosts from drugstores and painting slime on my body."

    In an interview with The New York Times, Murray says:

    I quit after that. I stayed away. I moved to Paris. I sort of knew how much I could gamble without giving away my life. ... It took everyone a long time to stop counting the Ghostbusters money. They were distracted, and they left me alone for a while. There were times when they wanted me to make movies that were part of packages, and I would never bite. I knew certain movies - like Airplane - were going to be successful, but I didn't want to do it. It's just not my thing. I don't lie awake and think, If only I'd done Revenge of the Nerds.

    While Hollywood was distracted, Murray moved with his family to Paris to study philosophy and history at Sorbonne University. He took interest especially in the writings of the Armenian mystic George Gurdjeff. Murray told The Times how he spent his days in France:

    I spent the morning in a class of other idiots learning French, and then in the afternoon I went to the Cinémathèque, and that was a fantastic life. At lunchtime I stopped by at a chocolatier, and I was always walking around with 150 grams of chocolate in my pocket, and offering a piece was a great way to start a conversation.

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  • Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
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    He Got Caught Carrying 10 Pounds Of Weed Through O'Hare Airport On His 20th Birthday

    After celebrating his 20th birthday with his family, Murray was set to fly back from Chicago's O'Hare Airport to Regis College in Denver. While waiting in line to board the plane, he decided to tell a fellow passenger a joke, saying he had two bombs in his suitcase. The joke didn't go over well because a ticket agent overheard him and called US Marshals, who decided to search his luggage.

    The Marshals found five 2-pound bricks of weed, worth around $20,000 at the time, that Murray planned to sell. In a panic, he decided to swallow a check from one of his "clients" before Chicago cops confiscated the suitcase. Murray was ordered to appear in court the next day after being charged with possession of weed. Because he was a first-time offender, he was placed on probation for five years.

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