Interesting Ideas

The Fabulous World of Joe "40,000" Murphy

Joe "40,000" Murphy ushered at counless sports, entertainment, political and other events in Chicago in the mid-20th Century. He recaptured
the glamour an incredible photo environment in his home and garage in Chicago's South Side Bridgeport neighborhood.
Read more about him.

JoeMurphyFullPortrait
Joe "40,000" Murphy: famous Chicago character, creator of a marvelous photographic environment.
JoeMurphyRoyRogers
Roy Rogers and Joe "40,000" Murphy. Like all the photos, this was once part of a photospread that consumed much of Murphy's house as well as a five-car garage across the street.
JoeMurphyLouisArmstrong
Louis Armstrong plus domesticity: You can't beat it.
JoeMurphyJimmyDuranteSammyDavis
Bringing Jimmy Durante and Sammy Davis into a common frame was genius. The effort to reclaim Sammy and friends from the blurred focus by drawing in eyebrows and other elements really impresses.
JoeMurphyJimmyDurante
Durante, babe and Murphy, a great combination.
JoeMurphyBobHope
Bob Hope.
JoeMurphyMakingCollage
Nephew Jim is on the drums. This collage is a triple artistic threat, showing a bit of 40,000 Murphy's environment in the background while showing his hand-coloring and annotations in the foreground, all while showing him at work on another collage.
JoeMurphyTerryMoore
Bathing beauties on the left, Terry Moore on the right.
JoeMurphyRedButtons
Red Buttons.
JoeMurphyRayMilland
Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers(?).
JoeMurphyTriangleTie
Triangle collages were important in the attic and other areas with sloping roofs.
JoeMurphyRepublicanConvention
Besides Joe in his environment, this one has a scene from the 1952 Republican National Convention.
JoeMurphyTriangleShakingHands
JoeMurphyTriangleAnimalTrainer
JoeMurphyMayorDaleyFishing
40,000 adds some audience to Mayor Daley fishing.
JoeMurphyMayorDaleyAward
Another synthetic Mayor Daley scene, this collage has him congratulating brother Johnny. Murphy lived a few blocks from the late mayor.
JoeMurphyDeforeHopalongSonjaHenie
Bringing people together was what 40,000 did in life and in his re-imagined world. Here is nephew Jimmy; Don "Hazel" Defore and his wife Marion; Sonja Henie; and Hopalong Cassidy
JoeMurphySonja
Sonja Henie was a 40,000 favorite.
JoeMurphyTriangle
One of Murphy's triumphs. Sonja, babes from the 1951 Esquire calendar and tickets. What more could a guy want? This was part of a room in his attic whose walls were covered with panels decorated exactly like this one.
JoeMurphyBasketballBabes
Another part of the attic room. Lucky guys on the basketball team.
JoeMurphyDondi
A strange blend of patriotism and pop art. The Sock It To Me reference dates this to the end of the sixties or later.
JoeMurphyGeorgeWashington
40,000 had no problem mixing up themes.
JoeMurphyFlags
He also had no qualms adding himself to the relatively few pictures where he did not otherwise appear.
JoeMurphyDaleyTrucks
Mayor Daley and his city. Visually the fire trucks and military vehicles complement each other nicely, but the thematic point is less clear.
JoeMurphyDegaulle
40,000 is Zelig-like in this photo of Mayor Daley soulmate Charles De Gaulle.
JoeMurphyRogerMaris
Is this a shrine to Roger Maris or to Babe Ruth? Either way, I've always thought it was one of the most formally perfect collages Murphy executed.
JoeMurphyInspectsSkater
A seamless mix of the exotic, the eccentric and the domestic.
JoeMurphyFancySkaters
Hey hey hey.
JoeMurphyStadiumIceShow1
40,000 in his element, with expressions that get more interesting as you move to the right.
JoeMurphyStadiumIceShow2
I like to think of this as the Stadium Ice Show deconstructed. This collage was featured on the cover of "Create and Be Recognized," the catalog for the most important outsider photography show ever, curated by John Turner and Deborah Klochko.
JoeMurphyChicagoStadiumVerso
This is the back of Stadium Ice Show Deconstructed, showing the compulsive scrawling of family names that is found behind most of the Murphy images.
CreateAndBeRecognized
The show catalog.
JoeMurphyStreetSF
Promotion for the Create and Be Recognized show at the Yerba Buena Art Center in San Francisco.
JoeMurphyPointing
JoeMurphyUsherInspection
40,000 inspects the ushers, after the fact. As with so many of the photos, he drew in his own frame around the edges.
JoeMurphySittingTickets
It's worth pondering how much time 40,000 spent individually coloring in the ribbons.
JoeMurphyTicketWall
A hobby in 1950. At some point it became much more.
JoeMurphyTickets
Most likely a press photo for one of the profiles about this lovable eccentric that seemed to show up in Chicago papers once a decade or so. In the upper left is a photo of Bishop Shiel that turns up in a number of Murphy collages.
ChicagoSun081747
Note the paragraphaph on the right that says that William Sianis, founder of Chicago's Billy Goat Tavern and source of the famous curse on the Cubs, named a goat after 40,000. Note also the reference to his "big Irish smile." 40,000 was Lithuanian. He took an Irish name to get a job.
JoeMurphyHestonRogersDurante
A very young Charleton Heston, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Jimmy Durante. 40,000 knew them all.
JoeMurphyLoneRangerRoyRogers
The Lone Ranger, Dale Evans and Roy Rogers, plus dear mother, sister Dorothy and nephew Jimmy.
JoeMurphyBigFamily
Brothers and sisters, plus nephew.
JoeMurphySophieTucker
Sophie Tucker and 40,000's pal Al Fiore. I didnt find many photos with autographs like this one, but that may be because they were culled for sale before I got my hands on the collection.
JoeMurphyTryptichWithShieldsHopalongJim
There's that bishop, plus Hopalong Cassidy with nephew Jimmy, in an enhanced version.
JoeMurphyJimProfile
One of many lovingly detailed and colored family images. Nephew Jim died young. As much as 40,000 built a glamorous fantasy world with his photo environment, he also included a lasting presence for his family.
JoeMurphyJimAsCub
JoeMurphyJimAsCub2
Another curious mixture of the domestic and something else. 40,000's appropriation of Nancy and Sluggo could be said to anticipate the pop artists of the '60s.
JoeMurphyJimWithCake
JoeMurphyDorothy1
JoeMurphyVerticalBabe
JoeMurphyPoodlePair
JoeMurphyJimmyExpress
JoeMurphyJimmyExpress2
JoeMurphySelfPortraitColored
The full treatment.
JoeMurphyDrag
Boys Town and drag. What a hobby!
JoeMurphyMrQuestionMark
The Hirsch Telephone Quiz was a trivia question asked of radio listeners. The sponsor was Hirsch Clothing Stores.
JoeMurphyBowler
Tommy Bowler, a Chicago alderman, happens to have been my wife's great uncle. Andy Pafko was a beloved Cub.
JoeMurphyMarilynMonroeAtComiskey3
An even more interesting baseball vignette, from a series of pictures with a very young Marilyn Monroe at Comiskey Park. Buddy Rogers was married to Mary Pickford.
JoeMurphyJayneMansfield1
Jayne Mansfield gets the treatment.
JoeMurphyJayneMansfield2
More Jayne.

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