Bill Murray became famous on Saturday Night Live in the mid-1970s. He cemented his reputation as a comedian by appearing in some of the most popular movies that came out over the ensuing decades, like Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day. Murray also excelled in a number of dramatic roles in films by Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation), Jim Jarmusch (Broken Flowers) and Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Moonrise Kingdom, along with bit roles in the other films).
What is less known about Bill Murray is that, for a Hollywood celebrity, he’s pretty down-to-earth guy who avoids having a contingent of staffers and lackeys around him. Unannounced, he often surprises random people and, like some kind of sardonic, sad-eyed Santa Claus, shows them there is such thing as magic.
Let us take a look at some of the mystic encounters with one William Jones “Bill” Murray. Here are 10 Times Bill Murray Made Us Fall In Love With Him.
Joining an archeological dig
The Exec-U-Dig program was launched in 1992. For a fee of $10,000, this program allows private individuals to participate in the archeological work that takes place every May and June on a tiny Mediterranean island of Yeronisos near the western coast of Cyprus. There they join a team of archeologists, students and their staff as they recover and study ancient remains from the time when Queen Cleopatra controlled the island.
In the late spring of 2006, the archeological team, led by New York University professor Joan Breton Connelly, was pleasantly surprised when Bill Murray expressed an interest in visiting their dig site. He spent a week working with archeologists and other specialists on one of the most beautiful stretches of Cyprian coastline.
Washing dishes at the student party
Billy Murray is known to be an avid golfer. In October of 2006 he participated in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – a celebrity golf tournament held at St Andrews, Scotland. One evening, while visiting a fashionable local bar Ma Bells with his fellow golfers, Murray was approached by students Lykke Stavnef and Marie Bergene who, as a joke, invited him to join them at their party.
To their surprise, Murray accepted and soon enough was in a Georgian student house, cracking jokes and making small talk with a bunch of drunken Scandinavian students. At one point, Stavnef expressed her concern about the lack of clean dishes for all the guests. Like a true gentleman, Murray offered to help her with this chore and washed dirty dishes at the student party. Afterwards, he politely said goodbye and left with his companions into the night.
Borrowing a Golf Cart
In August of 2007 Bill Murray attended Scandinavian Masters golf tournament. One evening he decided to borrow a golf cart displayed in front of the hotel in Stockholm, where all the attendees of the tournament stayed. With several companions, he drove a slow-moving vehicle to a local night club called Cafe Opera about a mile away from the hotel. Late in the night, while returning through the streets of Stockholm, Murray’s golf-cart was stopped by the police. Murray was asked to blow into a breathalyzer which he refused citing American legislation. Policemen then made him take a blood test after which Murray returned to his hotel.
Detective-Inspector Christer Holmlund of the Stockholm police later reported that, although the famous actor did smell of alcohol when he was pulled over, there were no obvious signs of drunkenness. Holmlund’s only comment of the whole incident was that he has been at his job since 1968 and has never experienced something like this.
As with any good urban legend, the origins of this Bill Murray anecdote are shrouded in the mists of time. Nevertheless, the whole tale is so quintessentially Bill Murray-esque that it could very easily be true. In 2008, several news portals reported a story about Bill Murray playing peekaboo with random people. Returning home late one night through New York City’s Union Square Park, a young man felt someone approach him from behind and cover his eyes with hands. Mysterious stranger then asked him: “Guess who?” The young man turned around and saw Bill Murray, who leaned in and whispered: “No one will ever believe you.” And then, just like that, he was gone.
When asked about this story in an later interview, Murray mysteriously replied:
“I’ve heard about that from a lot of people. A lot of people. I don’t know what to say. There’s probably a really appropriate thing to say. Something exactly and just perfectly right. But by God, it sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Just so crazy and unlikely and unusual?”
Reading poetry to construction workers
For quite some time, Bill Murray has been a poetry aficionado. He’s been quite supportive of the Poets House – a national literary center and library in lower Manhattan containing some 60,000 volumes of poetry. Although he regularly attends Poets House’s Annual Walk Across The Brooklyn Bridge, in 2009 Murray demonstrated his support a bit differently.
During the construction of the new Poets House, he stopped by to meet the construction crew working on the building. With a hard hat on his head, Bill Murray held a poetry reading for bemused construction workers working on the new building, reciting poems by writers such as Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson and Lorine Niedecker. All the while, he cracked jokes about short attention spans, joking: “It gets worse. If you want to take a sick day, do it now.”
Bartending at SXSW
Bill Murray is known to be a regular visitor to South by Southwest (SXSW) – a music, film and media festival held annually at Austin, Texas. SXSW in March of 2010 was no exception, with Murray attending a series of concerts. One evening he arrived in Shangri-La Bar accompanied by Wu-Tang Clan. That, in itself, would have made for an entertaining evening, but not for Bill Murray.
After a while, Murray decided he’d like to take a place behind the bar. Once he was allowed to serve drinks to patrons in the bar, no matter what anyone ordered, Murray poured them tequila shots. Despite this, his short stint bartending proved out to be a great success among visitors of the bar. Throughout the rest of the SXSW, Murray continued to appear randomly at people’s parties in the area.
Karaoking in New York City
In January of 2011 a group of friends went out for a couple of drinks and some singing at Karaoke One 7, one of the numerous karaoke bars in New York City. Shortly after their arrival, they noticed a man oddly similar to Bill Murray walking into the bar accompanied by two women. After some consultations among themselves, one of the karaoke guys mustered the courage and invited Murray to join them in their room, having no real expectations that the famous comedian would ever accept their offer.
However, soon afterwards there was a knock at the door – Bill Murray decided to join in the karaoke fun. Murray was polite, ordered Chartreuse liqueur for everyone and spent hours singing karaoke songs including, naturally, the Ghostbusters theme song as well as some Elvis Presley.
Giving a speech at a bachelor party
During the 2014 Memorial Day weekend, Bill Murray was visiting a steakhouse in Charleston, New Carolina with some friends. Nearby, twenty or so students from Boston College were celebrating a bachelor party for one of their friends. On his way to a bathroom, a friend of the groom noticed Bill Murray.
At first, students wanted to send him some drinks but he refused. Then they asked Murray if he could come up to the party and say a few words to the groom. Probably a bit exasperated, Murray refused again with a polite “No, thanks.” Crestfallen, students returned to their party. But couple of minutes later, in came Murray and, in that sardonic way of his, gave a wonderful speech at the bachelor party meant for everyone except the groom:
“If you have someone that you think is The One, take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK, and you’re still in love with that person… get married.”
Crashing an engagement photo shoot
Weddings were big on Bill Murray’s mind that spring. Around the time of his speech at the bachelor party, he posed in the young couple’s engagement photos in Charleston, South Carolina. Ashley Donald and Erik Rogers were out with wedding photographer Raheel Gauba, commemorating their engagement. When Gauba noticed that Ashley and Erik were distracted, he turned around to see who’s bothering them. To his surprise, he discovered Bill Murray with his shirt up and belly out trying to make couple laugh by tapping his belly.
No fool he, Gauba then invited Bill Murray to pose with the couple for a group photo. Murray accepted, leaving a professional photographer with a great publicity story and Ashley Donald and Erik Rogers with a funnier and stranger memory of their engagement then they could have ever imagined.
Attending the birthday party
In September of 2014, Marvin Larry Reynolds and his wife Julie invited Bill Murray to join Marvin’s birthday celebration in rural Jedburg, South Carolina. Murray, whose birthday is on September 21st, pleasantly surprised the Reynolds family by driving to their home and joining their birthday party. During the evening, Murray chatted pleasantly with other guests, helped with the opening of the birthday presents and blew candles from the birthday cakes. Brett McKee, who catered the party, made the Internet a better place by taking and posting pictures of Bill Murray joining the other partygoers in dancing to classic songs such as “Turn Down For What” and “867-5309/Jenny.”
As with many other items on this list, one has to wonder: how does Bill Murray decide which people to grace with his presence? An even more important question is, why does he even do these things? For that, at least, the answer might be simple: because he can. And that is the zen of Bill Murray.
So, what’s your favorite Bill Murray anecdote? Share it with us in the comments!