I have been watching some old Western movies starring Audie Murphy. What can you tell me about him?
—Marlys E., Minnesota
Audie Murphy, the son of poor Texas sharecroppers, was the most decorated soldier of World War II—27 U.S. decorations, including the Congressional Medal of Honor and five awards from Great Britain and France. After his best-selling autobiography, To Hell and Back, was published in 1949, his movie career took off at Universal Studios, where he starred in 27 films. He played himself in the 1955 film version of his book, and one of his best roles was that of a young Union soldier in 1950’s Red Badge of Courage. He starred in films for other studios but left movies for a time in the late 1960s. He had just completed A Time for Dying, playing Jesse James, in what he hoped would be his comeback film, when he died in a plane crash in 1971 at age 46. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Besides his movie career, Murphy was a successful horse breeder and songwriter.