Terry "Murphy" Murray created four lighthouse models for Katharine Hepburn before her death on June 29, 2003
Murphy has created a special memorial lighthouse in memory of Katharine Hepburn and will donate one to her family. This will be a limited edition with only 250 pieces. If you are interested in purchasing one, email Murphy at email@example.com
Article taken from the Toledo City Paper, July 10-16,2003 edition Written by: Jeffrey Vilk
Ask Terry Murray why he builds lighthouses the way he does, and he'll quickly say it's the emotion they bring out in people.
Katharine Hepburn felt that emotion in 1993 when she asked Murphy to build a replica of the Lynde Point Lighthouse, which sits in front of her Old Saybrook, Connecticut home. "Her father was a doctor who tended to the caretakers of the lighthouse in the early 1900's," Murphy said.
Over the years, Murray, or "Murphy", sculpted four lighthouses for the legendary actress and in the meantime, got to know her for more than simply the beautiful woman who starred in "African Queen." "There are just some people you're drawn to, and she was one of them," Murphy said. "She was a very special person; so down to earth." So for Murphy, when Katharine Hepburn died June 29 at age 96, it wasn't easy. "It was a tough day for me," Murphy said. "I fell like I lost a friend."
Hepburn first contacted Murphy in 1993 when she personally wrote him a letter expressing interest in his artwork. "I looked at it as a business opportunity (at first)," Murphy said, "But I couldn't help but think how fortunate I was to be asked by someone of her caliber to do work for her."
Hepburn had heard of Murphy's work through her self-proclaimed cousin, Russ Knowles, who Murphy knew through the Lighthouse Preservation Society. "When I finally met Ms. Hepburn I told her 'that cousin of yours sure is a character.' 'He certainly is,' Hepburn said, 'and he's not even my cousin.'" Murphy, 57, said as it turned out, the two were not related but grew up together.
Eventually, Murphy drove to Hepburn's house to take pictures and measurements of the lighthouse. "It was like walking into an antique shop," he said. Murphy said every inch of it was full of family collectibles.
He said Hepburn welcomed him to her home and sat down and had tea with him. Murphy added every day at 4 p.m. whether it was 9 or 90 degrees, Hepburn would have a roaring fire in her fireplace. "She's very steeped in tradition," Murphy said.
After the project was done, Murphy brought the lighthouse to Hepburn's house. Along with her lighthouse, Murphy just happened to bring a replica of the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras, NC. Hepburn was so enthralled with it, she bought both right on the spot.
Murphy said he got so much response and publicity from creating lighthouses for Hepburn, he wanted to give her the lighthouse as a token of his appreciation. But she would not let him. Reluctantly, he accepted a check but returned home and put it in a bank security box - where it still sits today. "Three months later she called me and said, "Murphy, you're not going to cash that check are you?" 'No, Ms Hepburn I'm not, unless you force me to,'" Murphy said.
So the two came up with a compromise. "What if you don't cash that check and I write you another one," Hepburn suggested. Murphy told her "it's a deal."
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