1968: Don Murray talks ‘Outcasts’

Social issues take part in decision

May 9, 1968
GOOD MORNING:
Don Murray claims he would NOT have accepted his series, “The Outcasts” (Screen Gems), had it not been a black-white man relationship. Otis Young is his co-star. “I turned down ‘The Professionals’ and ‘U.S.A.’ series to do this one,” he adds. “I believe this is sociologically important — so Negro children will have a hero of their own to watch. I remember years ago it was even difficult to find negro dolls — but we go them for our children so it would be natural for them, too” (He agrees they don’t see many Negro children in Bel-Air where they live) … Murray claims “The Outcasts” is not a carbon of the “I Spy” relationship between Bob Culp and Bill Cosby. This post-Civil War series about a former slave owner and slave is race-oriented. “Hugh Benson assured us we wouldn’t pull any punches,” said Murray. “Nor would we let a network water it down. Everything about civil rights then (1870) is as contemporary as today. It gives us a chance to actually be current” … (2008 Update: I reached Murray on Wednesday of this week at his ranch home in Goleta. It was the first day that the fire danger was over. For three days, a working fire crew lived at night on the patio of his threatened property. Don and his sons Christopher and Michael had been battling the blaze along with the firefighters. The Murrays sustained no damage. They were very lucky. When the fire’s danger was obvious, Murray safe-guarded the footage of “Breathe,” an underwater drama they’ve been filming globally with Don directing, his two sons co-starring with Cassidy Freeman. They were able to capture several near-escapes — from water as well as its inhabitants. And Murray said, “I want to do more sea adventures. We know what we’re doing and — none of us gets seasick — an important plus when you’re making this kind of film,” he laughed. Murray, 78, has not stopped working since the above “Outcasts,” starring in other series (“Knots Landing”) and in TV and theatrical features including “Bus Stop” with Marilyn Monroe, for which he was Oscar-nominated. He modestly said, “I’ve been lucky.” Also about the fire.

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