Okay—this one I’m having a great deal of difficulty believing. My good friend Craig Zablo mentioned it on Facebook, and the only source I’ve been able to locate is TMZ.com (and to paraphrase a quote from frequent TDOY commenter Tom, “I don’t trust anything on TMZ!”). Nevertheless, it would appear that actress Brittany Murphy shuffled off this mortal coil from cardiac arrest this morning at the age of 32. (Update: Here’s an obit from The New York Daily News, a publication in which I have a smidge more confidence.)
This is truly devastating news to hear. Most of the individuals whose deaths I post here on the blog are of such an advanced age that when you read about their passing you find yourself saying, “It’s sad, but they did live a good long life.” This would not seem to apply in Murphy’s case, and I’ll venture to say that the media juggernaut has now found the story that will become an obsession for the next two or three 24-hour news cycles; there were plenty of rumors that the talented young actress was having drug-related problems.
But that’s the last time you’re going to hear me mention that. I became a big fan of Murphy’s from the first time I saw her falling-down funny turn in Clueless (1995), and subsequent performances in movies like Freeway (1996), Girl, Interrupted (1999), and Don’t Say a Word (2001) made me marvel at the skills of the Atlanta, GA-born actress, who was the closest thing I’d seen in recent years to a “character” actress in a long time. (The last thing I saw Brittany in was The Dead Girl , which I caught on Sundance Channel on Demand a week or so back. Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.)
My favorite Murphy performance, however, remains her hysterical vocal characterization as trailer-trash wild girl Luanne Platter in the classic animated situation comedy King of the Hill (1997-2009). She took a character that could easily have been a one-dimensional parody of a lot of girls I knew in high school and infused Luanne with a sweetness and naïveté that made her positively endearing.
R.I.P, Brittany. You will be missed.