40,000 Murphy, like his much better-known contemporary Henry Darger, was a compulsive creator who built within his home a private universe, tracing, tinting, cutting and stapling it together from the raw material he extracted out of the real world.
Where the loner Darger was apparently driven by the loss of family into pure fantasy, the gregarious Murphy obsessively incorporated his mother, siblings, friends and himself into nearly every piece of the environment he built. He combined their photographs hundreds of ways into collages and elaborate arrangements on his walls and ceilings, up to a dozen or more photos framed together and then aggregated by the roomfuls.
40,000 Murphy was chief lieutenant to crowd-control czar Andy Frain, who, like Murphy, grew up in the shadow of the stockyards. Frain's ushers -- Murphy was one of the first five -- conducted Chicagoans through their big public events for decades, which put 40,000 in a position to get photographed with every notable he encountered and with every beautiful gal he could get his arm around (his expression typically communicating, "Hey hey hey, get a load of this babe!").
In this era Andy Frain's ushers were the ultimate in decorum. ("Keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut, that's the secret to ushering. You can't ration courtesy," Murphy told the Tribune.) The Democratic Machine, the unions and the first- or second-generation immigrant kids who inhabited them still prevailed unchallenged. Factories were slamming out goods, families weren't in crisis, and Bob Hope and Dean Martin meant class. The celebrities, Hope included, were all guests in 40,000's arena, and he displayed the easy familiarity of the shepherd as he guided them through all the glamour the city could muster at its stadiums, convention halls, sports palaces and ice rinks.
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