Jimmy Murphy, who founded Jimmy’s, the Beverly Hills restaurant popular with entertainment talent and execs throughout the 1980s and ’90s, died Friday in Beverly Hills of pancreatic cancer. He was 75.
Before owning his own restaurant, Murphy was, for 14 years, maitre ‘d at the Bistro, where customers including Johnny Carson, Bob Newhart and Don Rickles persuaded him to open his own restaurant. Located on Moreno Drive near the Beverly Hills/Century City border, Jimmy’s opened in 1978 and drew regulars including Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Murphy held annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and hosted fellow Irishmen including Jim Sheridan, Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan and Gabriel Byrne.
Born in Kilkenny, Ireland, Murphy left home at 14 to work at Dooley’s Hotel, then moved to London to train at the Savoy Hotel, where Charlie Chaplin was among his notable customers. His future wife Anne persuaded him to move to Los Angeles, where he began working at the Bella Fontana restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in the early 1960s.
Jimmy’s restaurant emphasized French cuisine with a nod to classic Californian dishes like Caesar salad, but with trends moving toward more casual spots, Murphy closed the jackets-required formal restaurant in 2000. He was briefly involved in running Jimmy’s Tavern on Pico with his children, then decided to invest in a musical on the life of Chaplin. It opened at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2010 and played on Broadway in 2012.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Anne, three children and two grandchildren.
Donations may be made on behalf of Jimmy Murphy to Sister Alice Marie Quinn, St. Vincent Meals on Wheels Foundation, 2200 West Third St., Suite 200, Los Angeles, CA 90057-1935.
(pictured: Anne Murphy, Jimmy Murphy, Linda Evans)