Of the many performers to leap into films from the springboard of the television sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live, Bill Murray has been among the most successful and unpredictable, forging an idiosyncratic career allowing him to stretch from low-brow slapstick farce to intelligent adult drama. Born in Wilmette, IL, on September 21, 1950, Murray was an incorrigible child, kicked out of both the Boy Scouts and Little League. At the age of 20, he was also arrested for attempting to smuggle close to nine pounds of marijuana through nearby O'Hare Airport. In an attempt to find direction in his life, he joined his older brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, in the cast of Chicago's Second City improvisational comedy troupe. He later relocated to New York City, joining radio's National Lampoon Hour. Both Murray siblings were also in a 1975 off-Broadway spin-off, also dubbed The National Lampoon Hour; there Murray was spotted by sportscaster Howard Cosell, who recruited him for the cast of his ABC variety program, titled Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell.
On the NBC network, a program also named Saturday Night Live was creating a much bigger sensation; when, after one season, the show's breakout star Chevy Chase exited to pursue a film career, producer Lorne Michaels tapped Murray as his replacement. Murray too became a celebrity, developing a fabulously insincere and sleazy comic persona which was put to good use in his first major film, the 1979 hit Meatballs. He next starred as the famed gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in the film biography Where the Buffalo Roam, a major disaster. However, 1980's Caddyshack was a masterpiece of slob comedy, with Murray memorable as a maniacal rangeboy hunting the gopher that is slowly destroying his golf course. The film launched him to the ranks of major stardom; the follow-up, the armed services farce Stripes, was an even bigger blockbuster, earning over 40 million dollars at the box office. Murray next appeared, unbilled, in 1982's Tootsie before starring with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis in 1984's Ghostbusters. The supernatural comedy was one of the decade's biggest hits, earning over 130 million dollars and spawning a cartoon series, action figures, and even a chart-topping theme song (performed by Ray Parker Jr.).