Audie Murphy received every combat award which the United States Army could offer, as well as awards from its European Allies France and Belgium, for his heroism as an infantryman during the Second World War. He wrote memoirs of his combat days entitled To Hell and Back and appeared as himself in a film made of the book under the same name.
Murphy enjoyed a film career of just over twenty years, in war films and westerns, and eventually branched into television. Murphy became an accomplished horse breeder and though not a performing musician wrote several songs which were recorded by artists such as Harry Nilsson, Roy Clark, Bobby Dare, Dean Martin, and many others.
In late May of 1971, Murphy was killed in a private airplane crash near Roanoke, Virginia. He was buried with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, and his widow began what became a 35-year career with the Veteran’s Administration as a clerk, living in a small apartment in Los Angeles. Given that the war hero had enjoyed a lengthy and successful career in entertainment, with a best-selling book, numerous successful films, and television and music success, questions arose over his finances. What happened to Murphy’s money?
Most of his money was lost in poor investments with his horses. Murphy made many bad business decisions regarding his horse breeding investments and the losses contributed to a depression that originated in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulting from his combat experiences. He developed a gambling habit that put greater strain on his available funds. He tried to make business deals in areas in which he had little expertise – looking for a quick return – and lost still more money.
In the late 1960s, an oil deal in Algeria collapsed costing Murphy over a quarter of a million, and unpaid taxes to the IRS were troubling him too. Murphy, a child of the depression, had come from a virtually destitute family and sadly died in similar circumstances. After his death, a lawsuit over the causes of the plane crash in which he died eventually afforded his family some financial relief.