Jan Murray Biography

Birthday: 1916-10-04
Place of Birth: New York City, New York
Height: 6' (1.83 m)
Wiki Biography: First and foremost a stand-up comedian, this top banana of the "borscht belt" circuit (at age 19) relied on amiable Jewish ethnic humor for longtime career sustenance. He also relied on his multi-talented gifts as an actor, master of ceremonies, game show host and raconteur. Handsome, Bronx-born, gravel-toned Jan Murray was born in 1917 as Murray Janowsky and received his very first booking in 1933 at the Bronx Operahouse. He honed his craft as a tummler and developed a name for himself in the Catskill Mountains while also entertaining WWII USO troupes. In post-war years it was more vaudeville houses and top nitieries until he became a standard Vegas marquee headliner. He broke into TV in the early 1950s via the game show hosting circuit (the first comedian to do so) and became a much-sought-after emcee throughout the 1950s. Fronting such programs as the musical quiz "Sing It Again" (1950) (his first), "Dollar a Second" (1953), and especially "Treasure Hunt" (1956), he paved the way for other comedians in finding an alternate and successful avenue to build up an audience for their schtick. Jan could also be counted on for his quicksilver storytelling on TV variety and talks shows, and was a guest host on "The Tonight Show." He actually moved to Los Angeles in 1965 to ignite an acting career, finding a number of parts over the years. Besides being an amusing guest star on such sitcoms as "The Lucy Show" and "Car 54, Where Are You?, he provided occasional dramatic appearances as well ("Dr. Kildare," "Mannix"). Films were very few and far between, adding to the fun in such slapstick as The Busy Body (1967), backing up friend Sid Caesar, and in Which Way to the Front? (1970), a Jerry Lewis vehicle. His more odd and offbeat film roles included the grim, obsessed detective who specializes in sex crimes and searches for Juliet Prowse's stalker in the lurid thriller Who Killed Teddy Bear (1965) and the grizzled riverboat captain in Tarzan and the Great River (1967). In later years Jan became a mainstay celebrity roaster. Out of the limelight for some time (since the early 1990s), Jan's health began to rapidly deteriorate in the last several years. He died of complications from pneumonia and emphysema at the age of 89 on July 2, 2006, and was survived by his wife of 57 years, Toni, and four children: Howard, Warren, Diane and Celia.

Jan MurrayPhotos & Pictures


TV Title Appeared As Year Genre
Meet Your Match 1952 Family
The Don Rickles Show 1968 Comedy
Movies Title Appeared As Year Genre
The Busy Body 1967
Which Way to the Front? 1970 Comedy
Fear City 1984 Crime, Drama, Mystery