Danny Murphy, a disability advocate, producer and actor best known for his roles in the Farrelly Brothers’ films: There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself & Irene, Kingpin and Shallow Hal has died of cancer. He was living in Florida.
Murphy was born on Aug. 20, 1955, in Boston, Mass. He attended Stonehill College and during his freshman year became a C6 quadriplegic after a diving accident on Martha’s Vineyard. After a year of rehabilitation, Murphy returned to Stonehill, graduating with a degree in criminal justice in 1979. He went on to work for Liberty Mutual Insurance and the Lotus Development Corp. before pursuing acting.
Life would again change for Murphy in 1994, when his friend Peter Farrelly invited him to the premiere of his film Dumb and Dumber. Farrelly asked him what he thought of the film and Murphy teased that he didn’t see a single wheelchair user in the movie.
Dumb and Dumber went on to becoming a comedic juggernaut. The film’s success led to the brothers landing an exclusive contract with 20th Century Fox and soon after Farrelly offered Murphy a role in the film Kingpin.
His experience in Kingpin left Murphy bitten by the acting bug. He soon enrolled in acting school. It wasn’t long before Farrelly offered him another role in There’s Something About Mary. Murphy’s acting career flourished and soon he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full-time.
In 2011, Murphy relocated to Florida to be closer to friends and family. He produced and acted in Rollin with Murph and made an appearance in Jenni Gold’s documentary CinemAbility. Murphy was also a consultant for the DreamCatcher Film Project.
In addition to his acting career, Murphy was active with the Media Access Office, which helps performers with disabilities break into the acting industry. He is a co-founder of Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities, an international PR campaign representing the acting unions SAG, AFTRA and Equity. In 2008, Murphy founded Blue Zone Productions, a theatre company for actors with disabilities.
Los Angeles-based photographer Christopher Voelker took to Facebook to pay homage to his friend. “Your courage to jump into the Hollywood scene in a wheelchair was nuts but just an awesome leap with no real actor that preceded you,” he says. “Many photo sessions, magazine covers … hearing your unmistakable Boston accent — [that] proud lingo you wore as a Red Sox fan. Make no mistake about it, you finally jumped over the Green Monster.”