The Truth About Bill Murray’s Drug Arrest

Per Esquire’s excerpt of “The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray,” Murray panicked and attempted to stash the five 2-pound bricks of pot in an airport locker, but Chicago vice cops arrived on the scene before he could do so. Murray did have time to eat the check written out to him from a customer, reportedly later saying, “That guy owes me his life and reputation.” The future actor was charged with possession of marijuana, arrested, and had to appear in narcotics court the next day.  The story made the front page of the Chicago Tribune, which discussed the 1970 incident in 2015. The piece quoted the 1970 story with the headline “‘Bomb’ Comment Misfires” and reported that vice detectives had already been at the airport with a plan to arrest Murray, as they had received a tip regarding the contents of his suitcase. 

The excerpt in Esquire notes that as it was Murray’s first offense, he avoided a jail sentence and was merely placed on probation for five years. Nevertheless, he did opt to drop out of Regis College before he could get kicked out for having a criminal record. Perhaps this unfortunate incident was actually the catalyst for Murray giving up his plans to be a doctor and concentrating instead on his comedic skills. Per a 1981 article in The New York Times, Bill Murray started working with Chicago’s Second City improv theater in the early 1970s and moved to New York in 1975 to appear on the “National Lampoon Radio Hour.” The rest is show biz history. 

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