Don Murray: From Marilyn to ‘Promise’

Actor Don Murray – Marilyn’s last surviving leading man – has taken on a new film role at the grand old age of 92. He made his movie debut in Bus Stop (1956), and although working with Marilyn was far from easy, he had only kind words for her in this recent interview with the Albany Herald.

“Joe Cornet never initially considered now 92-year-old Don Murray for a role in his 2021 western film Promise.

‘I wanted an iconic actor for one of the roles and approached two other veteran western stars, but for one reason or another neither worked out,’ Cornet, who wrote, directed, and co-produced the almost 2-hour-long western drama, said.

Already acquainted with Murray’s son, Cornet explained his dilemma to the younger Murray who proposed a simple solution: ‘Why don’t you get dad?’

‘So, I sent Don the script but wasn’t really expecting to hear from him — I just didn’t think he would do it,’ Cornet said. ‘However, he called the following day to say he loved the story, calling it a classic, and asked when the shooting started.’

‘It has elements of the classic western, but it’s also not cliché-bound,’ Murray said from his home in Santa Barbara. ‘It was just a great concept, very imaginative with good writing.’

Murray, on set for a week to shoot his scenes at a Southern Californian ranch, ‘was a gem’ according to Cornet.

‘He has three large, important scenes, two with me,’ Cornet said. ‘He added a lot of quirks and nuances to create an interesting character.’ Currently available on Amazon Prime, Promise was entered in Tucson’s Wild Bunch Film Festival last October, receiving 11 awards, including Best Picture.

Don Murray is no stranger to award ceremonies, having been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his first film role in 1956’s Bus Stop, co-starring Marilyn Monroe.

‘It was a total surprise; I couldn’t believe it,’ Murray said of his reaction when learning that the film’s director, Josh Logan, insisted the producers cast him as a rambunctious cowboy alongside the notoriously difficult Monroe.

‘I was aware of her reputation but didn’t let that bother me,’ Murray said. ‘I didn’t pay any attention to what people thought of her. I was just involved with the work and working with her, which was a great experience. She was very supportive of me and we got along well, no problems ever.’

Murray also remembers Logan going to great lengths to put Monroe at ease.

‘He was always very supportive and made her feel comfortable,’ Murray said. ‘He was very positive and didn’t criticize what she was doing.'”