“I’ve always seen myself as one of those ‘show people.’ My earliest memories are wanting and needing to entertain people, like a gypsy traveler who goes from place to place, city to city, performing for audiences and reaching people.”—Brittany Murphy.
Whether you knew her by face or by voice, Brittany Murphy had a thriving career on both big and small screens during the 1990s and 2000s. Not only that, Murphy was also musically inclined, pursuing her passion for music with an equal determination to her acting career. While she passed tragically young in 2009, her accomplishments ensure that her legacy cannot be ignored or forgotten.
Here, therefore, is a list detailing not just her accomplishments, but also aspects of her life, from beginning to end.
Brittany Murphy Facts
26. Traveling the Country
Murphy was born in Atlanta on November 10, 1977. However, after her parents’ divorce at the age of two, she attended school in New Jersey before moving to California at 13.
25. Renaissance Woman
In addition to singing, Murphy was also able to play the trumpet and piano.
24. Background Check
Although she was born in the US, Murphy had Irish, Italian, and Slovak background through her grandparents.
23. Name Your Heroes
Murphy claimed that her career idols were Judy Garland, Barbara Streisand, and Diana Ross. She also named Lionel Ritchie as her guardian angel.
22. Sing Your Heart Out!
Thanks to Murphy’s musical talents, she not only provided her voice acting for Happy Feet, but also provided her own singing voice for the film’s soundtrack.
21. Brand Recognition
One low-key task Murphy’s character has in the film Sin City is tying the movie into the rest of Robert Rodriguez’s filmography. In one scene, Murphy’s character is holding a bottle of beer labelled “Chango.” This same brand appears in Rodriguez’ prior films Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn.
20. Movie Pair-Up
After co-starring with him in the film Just Married, Murphy began a relationship with actor Ashton Kutcher. Despite rumors that the couple were engaged, the relationship allegedly lasted less than a year before they broke up.
19. Final Parting
The last time Ashton Kutcher saw Murphy was when he was in the middle of producing a television series, and he invited her to become involved—this was after both of them had gotten married to other people. Murphy had a meeting with him just a few months prior to her tragic passing.
18. Second Voice
It’s safe to say that Luanne on King of the Hill was one of Murphy’s most popular and well-known roles. However, that wasn’t her only contribution to the voicework of King of the Hill. She also provided the pre-teen voice for Joseph Gribble.
17. The People You Know
Interestingly, the role of Joseph Gribble was taken over from Murphy by Breckin Meyer after Joseph’s character hit puberty. Murphy and Meyer had previously worked together on Clueless.
16. Life Imitating Art
One of Murphy’s more critically acclaimed performances was in the film 8 Mile, which starred rapper Eminem playing a character loosely based on himself and his upbringing. Murphy played Alex, the love interest of Eminem’s character, Jimmy. During production, Murphy later stated, she and Eminem became romantically involved off camera as well.
15. Last Role
Murphy’s final film appearance was in the horror-thriller film Something Wicked. Although it was filmed prior to Murphy’s death in 2009, the film spent five years in development before it was released in 2014.
14. Parlez Vous Francais?
While Murphy couldn’t speak French, she managed to learn French lines phonetically for the movie Just Married.
13. Movie Stand-In
Murphy starred in two indie films directed by Edward Burns: Sidewalks of New York and The Groomsmen. In the case of the latter, she played the love interest of the character played by Burns himself. In a case of art imitating life, Murphy’s character, Sue, is five months pregnant when she is set to marry Burns’ character, just like Burns’ wife, Christy Turlington, was when they married in real life.
12. Good News and Bad News
At one point in her career, Murphy won the role of Janis Joplin for a biopic on the legendary singer, beating out Courtney Love and Emily Watson. Unfortunately, the issue of rights to Joplin’s music became tangled in legal troubles, and the film was never made.
11. I’m Just That Good
Murphy, along with many other acclaimed actors, appears in the Robert Rodriguez film Sin City, the violent noir based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. The film is broken up into three main storylines, with Murphy’s character appearing in all three of them. However, despite this prominent role, Murphy managed to film all of her footage for the movie in a single day.
10. See You Soon!
Speaking of Sin City and its large cast, one actor who appears in the film is Elijah Wood. Though they never share any scenes together, Murphy and Wood would later play love interests in the film Happy Feet just a year later.
9. Creepy Coincidence
In a rather haunting note, Murphy’s high school prom date was none other than Jonathan Brandis. Both would go on to become well-known actors who infamously died at a young age.
In the 1990s, Murphy joined actor Eric Balfour when she appeared in a band called Blessed Soul.
7. That was Lucky!
In 1999, Murphy co-starred in the Oscar-nominated film Girl, Interrupted, following a number of young women who are committed to a psychiatric hospital for various reasons. Murphy won praise for the tragic character of Daisy, but her involvement, however, was a last-minute decision. She was only cast after the original actress, Leelee Sobieski, dropped out due to scheduling issues.
6. In the Flower of Her Youth
On December 20, 2009, Murphy died at the tragically young age of 32. While the cause of death was originally listed as natural causes, a subsequent report blamed her death on “a combination of pneumonia, anemia, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs.”
5. Till Death Do Us Part
Five months after Murphy’s death, her husband, Simon Monjack, died in the same bedroom that Murphy had been in. In a disturbing coincidence, the cause of his death was also listed as pneumonia and anemia.
4. What’s to Blame?
One reason for the abrupt deaths of Murphy and her husband has been brought forward by Murphy’s mother, Sharon. Sharon maintains that her daughter and son-in-law died due to a presence of toxic mold in their house.
3. Who’s to Blame?
By contrast, Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, had toxicology tests done on Murphy’s hair and the results convinced him that she and her husband were poisoned. Bertolotti has yet to make an accusation on who that poisoner might have been, and it’s worth pointing out that Murphy’s mother, Sharon, and Bertolotti hotly dispute each other’s claims.
2. We Both Love to Swim
Of all the characters that Murphy played in her lifetime, she alleged that the character she thought was most like her was Gloria in Happy Feet, despite the fact that the character was a penguin.
1. In Her Name
Following her death, the Brittany Murphy Foundation was established. This organization serves as a charitable fund for children’s education, as well as supporting cancer research. This is in reference to the fact that not only is Murphy’s mother a breast cancer survivor, but Murphy herself had had a breast cancer scare at one point in her life.