Audie Murphy was raised in a family of eleven children on a sharecropper's farm in Hunt County, Texas, after their father abandoned them. After his mother died, he was sixteen, and his brothers and sisters were placed in an orphanage or with relatives. He enlisted in the infantry when World War II broke out. Murphy had twenty-eight medals by the end of the war, including three from France and one from Belgium, making him the nation's most decorated soldier. After returning to a hero's welcome in the United States, actor James Cagney urged him to pursue an acting career, and he went on to star in over forty films.
He died in a private plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia, in 1971, at the age of 46. He was laid to rest in the Arlington National Cemetery.