Murray certainly has some interesting anecdotes surrounding him. Without making a big issue out of it, Houdini is quoted in March 1910 when he arrived in Sydney, Australia, as saying "If I might be allowed to coin a phrase, I would call myself an escapologist." So I guess you could say that Murray popularised the term, if he didn't actually originate it.
I'm working on a project to extract all the references to magicians out of the "Australian Variety and Show World" magazine which ran from 1913 to around 1932 in Sydney. It's going to end up (eventually!) as a small print run book. Among the many items is this feature article from Murray, who in 1928 was back in Australia temporarily. You might find of interest.
February 29, 1928 Murray, and those Who Knew Him When
"I think it was Rod La Rocque who invented the phrase. For years he had walked around New York from office to office, studio to studio, seeking a job, but encountering that organised system of rebuffs designed to rid the world of garrulous picture actors. More or less desperate, he went to Hollywood. His leap to fame made history, and right on the crest he came home back to New York, where the men who had done their best to break his spirit, still begrudged him his success. La Rocque summed them all up in one phrase: Theyre the guys who knew me when!
Maybe Murray could tell somewhat the same story. He doesnt though. Id say he simply shares the experience of most home-comers, meets the undercurrents, gets on with his show, receives three or four times as much as the knew-him-whens ever will earn and shuts up!
Somehow I like the drama of Murrays return. To the film world he had been, perhaps, nine or ten years ago, an office-kid around at Gfilm House getting 25/- a week. Betcha life, he always was an escapologist, commented one of the old-line executives. Id want him to go somewhere and see him sitting on the bench. Id yell Hey Murray but before my voice had reached him hed got away!
There followed an obscure period of working, learning, developing his act in little shows, of which the show-world itself knew nothing, And maybe there were weeks when the forsaken 25 bob must have looked pretty good. Wonder how Murray felt to come back: to read his name sniped, twenty-four sheeted and flaring in electrics all over town. Wonder how it felt to wander down the street with a fine big contract in his pocket: to find himself just as famous at home as he is in London despite the knew-him-whens. Couldnt that be listed among the thrills that come once in a lifetime?
But wait a moment: I havent introduced Murray properly and wouldnt have been able to, either, but for having seen his full name on a Sydney police summons for stopping traffic with one of his outdoor stunts. He is Leo Norman Maurieu Murray Stewart Carrington-Walters, which is much too big for the billing. With the same aptness by which he tosses off handcuffs, ropes and strait-jackets, he freed himself from six names and stands just as Murray. As Murray they know him through the East, through Egypt, through England and America, and a human interest story runs in the wake of these wanderings.
Opportunity is the first big thing in a performers life, he says, and so I owe more to Walter J. Hutchinson than any other man in the world. You remember him? He was out here some years ago for Fox and is now managing director of Fox in England . I was battling up to Darwin and had stopped off at Thursday Island. On the same ship, although I didnt know it, was Mr. Hutchinson. We drifted into conversation about Alaska. He spoke of the prospects for my act in the East, but I had to admit that I was not going that far. I couldnt tell him why; but I was hoping - hoping hard. The ship would stay at Darwin overnight and I was scheduled for a show ashore. I banked on that for enough money to move on to Java. But it rained and we were working in the open air. Very optimistically I had left my luggage aboard; then in the morning I trudged down to get it.
You arent going to stay in this place? Hutchinson demanded. Then he took me into his cabin and asked me point blank what was wrong. He got the truth. My fare to Java would be ₤39 and all I had was ₤26. He smiled, and offered me a fiver. Would that help? You be it did. That fiver got me into Java and there Mr. Hutchinson found engagements enough to keep me going for awhile. Some months afterwards I reached China and spent most of my money trying to break in without knowing that I couldnt unless I worked through a native agent.
Then it was the same old story, finishing with a chance meeting with Hutchinson, who was handling the Count of Monte Cristo. As an exploitation stunt he engaged me to be manacled, tied up in a bag and thrown into the sea. The thing went over so well that for six months I repeated the stunt wherever the picture played.
Skip a few years and in London again the first man I met was Mr. Hutchinson. But this time I wasnt broke, although perhaps he expected me to be. I wanted to get on to the Stoll circuit; but Mr. Hutchinson had other ideas. I can use you for Fox in a way that will put you on all the front pages in London. After that you can name your own salary to Stoll. And there the cycle of events was complete. The man who helped me at the bottom of the ladder was the man who helped me again at the top. We arranged the idea of strait-jacketing and hanging me head-downwards from a crane a hundred feet in the air. What Fox got out of it was the streamer advertisements, All London looks up to Fox. But I got most the chance!