An Endless Cast O’ Characters… Like Terry Murphy

Characters
BobLee
August09/ 2017

An Endless Cast o’ Characters

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I’m not sure what the definition of “a character” is.

Maybe it’s like pornography? You can’t define it but you know one when you see it.

Maybe it’s like “a purple cow”? You’d rather see one than be one. Except I would not mind “being a character” that someone knew.  Maybe I am?

He certainly was a character would be a cool tombstone inscription.

I often rate the places I’ve been… the things I’ve done… the people I’ve known by “the characters” that I encountered while being there doing whatever I was doing.

There was a twenty year period of my life – age 20-40 – that was rather peripatetic (DUH!).  I lived in seven diverse parts of this country over those two decades. I would not recommend that degree of instability.

Otherwise I doubt my life in totality has been all that different than yours. Whether it has or not is not our purpose today.

I’m going to use the definition of “character” as someone whose name you remember and that you randomly wonder “whatever happened to _______?” Maybe positively and fondly. Maybe NOT so positively or fondly.

“Characters” come in all shapes and sizes.   Their role in your life’s drama may be fleeting, but they leave their mark.

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Terry MurphyLast week Terry Murphy sat down in his home in a North Dallas suburb and wrote his auto-obituary. He either mailed it or emailed it to The Dallas Morning News. Then Terry went out in his front yard and committed suicide by gun. Terry was 77.

I had not seen Terry for 36-37 years. I thought of him occasionally because Terry Murphy was “a character”.

It was pure coincidence that I learned of Murphy’s demise. I contacted one of my BFFs – Bob in San Antonio – who I touch base with about once/year. I wish we were closer geographically because Bob IS a BFF.  Our random “cyber catch-ups” are the best we can manage.

So Bob tells me “Terry Murphy died yesterday”. That opened a box in my memory attic that hadn’t received attention in a while. Bob had no details but he was going to Dallas on business and would let me know.

Bob was the catalyst for how I met Terry. Bob also got me appointed as a judge for the 1979 Kansas City Kings (NBA) “Glitter Girls” competition. That’s how I met “Thunder Thighs”, “Born To Glitter”, and “Cleopatra” who was dating Kings’ point guard Phil Ford at the time.  Yes… that Phil Ford.

Judging a pro sports’ team’s cheerleader competition is a “I once did” that can get overlooked when making out “a bucket list”. It’s not “Running with the bulls at Pamplona” but it’s something.

Terry Murphy was not involved in Bob or my lives at that point.  In retrospect he certainly would have fit in.

My world and Terry’s overlapped for about a year or so. We almost sorta went into business together running a replica Old West theme park.  I dodged that bullet, but I am glad for that brief overlap.

When I got the details as noted above, my first thought was why did Terry do it in his front yard? My second thought was OF COURSE Terry Murphy would kill himself in his front yard.

In the suicide “business” doing the act outside is, apparently, a thoughtful consideration of the mess “doing it” creates if one is using a firearm. Blood and brains on the grass versus on the carpet, walls etc….  Did Terry wave to a neighbor and yell “Hey, watch this…”?  We’ll never know.

Terry submitting his own obituary was vintage “Murphy” I knew in Dallas in the early 80s.

Terry Murphy Auto-Obituary – LINK!

I had totally lost touch with Terry over 30+ years. No clue what circumstance led him to suicide. Illness… finances… family… depression from whatever.

Terry Murphy’s life was an endless series of “Hey, let’s _______.” Maybe his dramatic exit from this mortal coil was the ultimate “Hey, lets _____.”

He had been a Dallas mover/shaker business celebrity back in the 80s as publisher of “D” Magazine – THE Fru Fru Lifestyle magazine for Dallas at the apex of the J.R. Ewing Era.

You might recall the 3 On 3 Basketball phenomenon that swept America and Beyond in the late 80s-mid 90s. Terry Murphy started all that. His Streetball Partners were putting on 100s of Hoop-It-Up events around the world (27 countries) at its peak.

Terry Murphy

Terry made a LOT of $$$ when he sold that. $$$ which apparently he subsequently lost with an endless series of less successful “Hey, lets _______.” schemes he never ran out of.

He lived in Spain for a year and had an unrequited desire to write a novel. Of course he did… “living in Spain and wanting to write a novel” was also vintage Murphy.

The occasion of Terry’s death ignited a number of “memories of Terry Murphy” from various celeb-glitteratti in Dallas. Terry would have LOVED that. The 6-8 of those I read on-line where eerily similar to this one.

Some “characters” you encounter you envy and wish you could sorta “be like”. Other “characters” you are very glad you are not. Terry Murphy was both.

My enduring memory of Terry Murphy was a classic line from his ex-wife Linda. I don’t know the circumstances of their split but I can imagine. Linda Murphy was a no-nonsense “ball-buster”.  She held the string to her helium balloon of a husband… until she decided to let it go…

We were in their den… down the street from Dallas Cowboy legend Randy White.   Terry was in one of his frequent overly-caffeinated “Hey, let’s _____” wild idea modes. … I was getting a sandwich standing by Linda and she muttered ….

“I’ll do whatever it takes to take care of my family. If I have to, I can always sell gloves at Dillards.”

Dillards was absorbed by Macys years ago. (Oops, that was Hecht’s that Macy’s took over, not Dillards)…  I never drove by a Dillards without thinking of Linda Murphy behind a counter selling gloves.

I hope in my remaining years I continue to encounter “characters”.

I hope you do too.

###

BobLee
  • ultraviolet Reply
    2 months ago

    I hate not having met that guy.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      He was not a totally unique type. Depending upon one’s social and occupational circles, there are “like Terry Murphys” out there. Often they are borderline “crooked”… i/e. con men. I never knew Terry to be that at all…

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      This was not the complete library of every article about The Scandal About The Scam. The unique hook w/ Feinstein two pieces was the back/forth with angry UNCers.

  • TheCowdog Reply
    2 months ago

    One helluva walkoff….

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      Typical Terry…

  • Bob Kennel Reply
    2 months ago

    Interesting column. Even more interesting obit. Maybe you’re not supposed to know too much about what makes “characters” tick.
    .
    Maybe Linda should have been more of a character; or one of the grandchildren should have spoken up. We’ll not know, but we do need something more soul satisfying than the auto-obit.
    .
    Since I’ve seen that age and also written auto-biogs, Terry’s is such a sad story which didn’t need to be. Sound minds and sound bodies don’t consider suicide as an option. I feel for the rest of his family and friends. Rather not be a dead “character”.
    .
    Sorry, feel some degree of anger at Terry without understanding more (which he had the opportunity to help us understand). Good rest his soul in any case.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      My guess is that he was neither of sound mind nor of sound body in his final days. I got the impression the Terry Murphy everyone knew / remembered had “gone away” some years ago. Almost all of the memories other brought up were of the 1990s in his heyday.
      .
      To your everlasting credit, you are older than Terry by a handful yet still quite a character. Maybe continuing to “be a character” is a key to a long and active life ???

  • Tedensky Reply
    2 months ago

    Interesting obit.–he painted an interesting picture of his life–by the way, well described by you before I read it–before committing such a lonely, desperate act of what he perceived as his only answer to his situation!

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      I am very curious what his “situation” was. Bob had also lost touch so he has no clue. I can imagine inoperable cancer or the onset of dementia “doing it” for Terry.

  • NCSU68Grad Reply
    2 months ago

    Two thoughts….
    Depression (unless it is from knowing that the growth inside you is going to take you out in a HORRIBLE way) does strange things. Having been acquainted with the former mayor of Hickory, NC, he was also a “character”.
    .
    Probably MORE outgoing in a “sales and marketing way” than Terry. He was a community leader and had a nice family. He ended it one afternoon alone in the house. As the son of a very fundamentalist mountain minister, he said he had gone to church enough by age 5 for his lifetime, BUT, his various gigs as an executive in small towns required the perfunctory “Join THIS church”. Like Terry, one of his profound statements was “The most traumatic memory of my childhood and youth was seeing our outhouse burn down. That puts all things in perspective as I get older”. He WAS a VaTech Grad…
    .
    As to an Epithet, I like Bill Medley’s (Surviving Member of “The Righteous Brothers”) comment. He wrote a book called “I had the TIME of my LIFE”. You probably know that he sang that for Dirty Dancing (after a LOT of “you GOTTA do this” from friends and family). THAT was a GOOD MOVE. Saw him in concert in Vegas in the spring. His onstage banter got me to thinking about THAT line and also into buying (from Amazon for half what he was hawking them for) his book. He is a “Character”.
    .
    Very good column…thought you were on sabbatical or perhaps following the Blue Smurfette or Bubba and ferreting through their trash for signs of “things to come” in TGU saga.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      I’ll have a Pre-Showdown In Music City column in a few days. Before Monday the 14th. Be ready with your “Should Happen” and your “Probably Will Happen” best guesses..

  • BC.PV Reply
    2 months ago

    BobLee, his is one of the most interesting, and entertaining obits I’ve ever read. He had to be a “character”. Thanks for sharing your memories!

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      I can see Terry sharing it with a few friends to get their reactions… maybe not telling them he was ready to use it. He enjoyed entertaining an audience.

  • BobH Reply
    2 months ago

    Well! That sucks! (to co-opt the language of youth).

    Macy’s did not acquire Dillards, BTW. In fact they are taking over space in our local ‘mall’ vacated by Macy’s as the latter crash and burn.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      You are correct. I was thinking of Hecht’s which Macy’s took over. Thanks.

  • MB.in.Balmer Reply
    2 months ago

    Though tragic to see someone take his own life, his obit was classic. Very few obits bring the person to life like this. When my wife’s uncle passed away at age 93, they ran a picture of him laughing at a party or something. Maybe the best obit picture I ever saw.

    • BobLee Reply
      2 months ago

      I can imagine him working on it for several days… weeks. Knowing it would be his last “Hey, Lets…”. I am curious about his final months, weeks just because I know it’s “a heckuva story” at least the way Terry would tell it.

      • RowdyBlueTarHeeler Reply
        2 months ago

        who is writing YOUR obituary?

        • BobLee Reply
          2 months ago

          Depends upon who is left when that time comes. I may leave a few suggestions… 💀

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