F. Murray Abraham
Abraham in 2008
Murray Abraham

(1939-10-24) October 24, 1939 (age 84)[1]
EducationUniversity of Texas at El Paso
University of Texas at Austin
Years active1959–present
Kate Hannan
(m. 1962; died 2022)
AwardsFull list

F. Murray Abraham (born Murray Abraham;[2][3] October 24, 1939)[4] is an American actor. Known for his roles on stage and screen, he has received an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award as well as nominations for a BAFTA Award, four Emmy Awards, and a Grammy Award. He came to prominence for his portrayal of Antonio Salieri in the drama film Amadeus (1984) for which he won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Abraham made his Broadway debut in the 1968 play The Man in the Glass Booth. He received the Obie Award for Outstanding Performance for his roles in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (1984) and William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice (2011). He returned to Broadway in the revival of Terrence McNally's comedy It's Only a Play (2014), receiving a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play nomination.

He has appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men (1976), Scarface (1983), The Name of the Rose (1986), Last Action Hero (1993), Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Dillinger and Capone (1995), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Finding Forrester (2000), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Isle of Dogs (2018) and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019).

He was a regular cast member on the Showtime drama series Homeland (2012–2018), which earned him two nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. He also starred in Mythic Quest (2020–2021), Moon Knight (2022) and The White Lotus (2022), with the latter earning him a nominations for the Golden Globe Award and the Primetime Emmy Award.[5]

Early life and education

Abraham was born Murray Abraham on October 24, 1939, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Fahrid "Fred" Abraham,[6] an automotive mechanic and his wife Josephine (née Stello; April 15, 1915 – March 10, 2012),[7][8] Murray has described himself as an Italian American and Syrian American.[9][10]

His father emigrated with his family from Muqlus, Ottoman Syria, a small village in the Valley of the Christians, at age five due to the famine of Mount Lebanon;[11][12] his paternal grandfather was a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.[4][13][14] His mother, one of 14 children, was Italian American and the daughter of an Italian immigrant who worked in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.[4] He had two younger brothers, Robert and Jack, who were killed in separate car accidents.[6]

Abraham was raised in El Paso, Texas. Murray and his two younger brothers were altar boys in the St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in El Paso.[13][14] He attended Vilas Grammar School, and graduated from El Paso High School in 1958.[15] He was a gang member during his teenage years.[4] In El Paso, Abraham worked in the Farah Clothing [fr] factory owned by a Lebanese family before launching a career in acting.[16] He attended Texas Western College (later named University of Texas at El Paso), where he was given the best actor award by Alpha Psi Omega for his portrayal of the Indian Nocona in Comanche Eagle during the 1959–60 season. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, then studied acting under Uta Hagen at HB Studio[17] in New York City. He began his acting career on the stage, debuting in a Los Angeles production of Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.[citation needed]

Abraham added "F." to his stage name in honor of his father Fahrid.[18] He has stated that "Murray Abraham just doesn't seem to say anything. It just is another name, so I thought I'd frame it".[3]


1971–1978: Early roles

Abraham made his screen debut as an usher in the George C. Scott comedy They Might Be Giants (1971). He can be seen as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973) and in television roles including the bad guy in one fourth-season episode of Kojak ("The Godson"). His early film roles include small parts as a cabdriver in the theatrical version of Neil Simon's The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), a mechanic in the theatrical version of Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975). He also played a police officer in the Alan J. Pakula Watergate film All the President's Men (1976), and acted in the comedy films The Ritz (1976) opposite Rita Moreno and The Big Fix (1978) alongside Richard Dreyfuss.

By the mid-1970s, he also had steady employment doing commercials and voice-overs. Most notably, he played "the leaf", one of four costumed characters, in television and print commercials for Fruit of the Loom underwear.[19] In 1978, he gave up this work. Frustrated with the lack of substantial roles, he said: "No one was taking my acting seriously. I figured if I didn't do it, then I'd have no right to the dreams I've always had." His wife, Kate Hannan, went to work as an assistant and Abraham became a "house husband". As he described it: "I cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids. It was very rough on my macho idea of life. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me."[19]

1983–1986: Breakthrough and acclaim

Portrait of Antonio Salieri whom Abraham portrayed in Amadeus (1984)

Abraham gained greater prominence when he appeared as drug dealer Omar Suárez in the gangster film Scarface (1983). Then, in 1984, he played envious composer Antonio Salieri in the Academy Award for Best Picture-winning Amadeus (1984), directed by Miloš Forman. Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, an award for which his co-star in the film Tom Hulce, playing Mozart, had also been nominated. He also won a Golden Globe Award, among other awards and his role in the film remains his most famous.

Abraham's relatively low-profile film career subsequent to his Academy Award win has been considered an example of the "Oscar jinx." According to film critic Leonard Maltin, professional failure following an early success is referred to in Hollywood circles as the "F. Murray Abraham syndrome."[20] Abraham rejected this notion and told Maltin, "The Oscar is the single most important event of my career. I have dined with kings, shared equal billing with my idols, lectured at Harvard and Columbia. If this is a jinx, I'll take two." In the same interview, Abraham said, "Even though I won the Oscar, I can still take the subway in New York, and nobody recognizes me. Some actors might find that disconcerting, but I find it refreshing."

Abraham also joined The Mirror Theater Ltd's Mirror Repertory Company in 1984. He joined MRC the week after winning his Oscar for Best Actor for his work in Amadeus because he wanted to work with MRC Artist-in-Residence Geraldine Page (to whom he would eventually present her own Academy Award the following year) and would star opposite her in MRC's The Madwoman of Chaillot.[21]

Since Amadeus, he mainly focused on classical theater and has starred in many Shakespearean productions such as Othello and Richard III. He was highlighted in many other plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Gilbert and Sullivan and played the lead in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (for which he received an Obie Award). His next film role was in The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he played Bernardo Gui, nemesis to Sean Connery's William of Baskerville. In its DVD commentary, the director of the film, Jean-Jacques Annaud, described Abraham as an "egomaniac" on the set, who considered himself more important than Sean Connery because Connery did not have an Oscar.[22] Despite the on-set tensions, the film was a critical[23] and commercial success.

1989–1998: Established actor

After the release of The Name of the Rose, Abraham tired of appearing as villains and wanted to return to his background in comedy.[24] From May 10 through July 14, 1991, Abraham portrayed King Lear in American Repertory Theater's (A.R.T.) production of King Lear, directed by Adrian Hall, Cambridge, MA.[25] In 1994, Abraham portrayed Roy Cohn in the first Broadway production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America at the Walter Kerr Theater, replacing Ron Leibman in the role.

Over the next decade or so, Abraham had fewer prominent roles, but he did have substantial supporting roles in Peter Yates' An Innocent Man (1989), Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Ahdar Ru'afo in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998) and Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000), where he again played the nemesis to Connery. He had a significant role in Brian De Palma's adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), but chose not to be credited due to a contract dispute.[4] He continued his association with classical music by narrating the plot summaries of the operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the 1990 PBS broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, to the largest viewing audience of the Ring Cycle in history, conducted by James Levine.

In the 1997/98 Broadway season, he starred in the new chamber musical Triumph of Love opposite Betty Buckley, based on Marivaux's classic comedy. The production did not find a large audience, running 85 performances after its pre-opening preview period.[26] He has also taught theater at Brooklyn College.[27]

2000–present: Career resurgence

The cast holding hands onstage
Abraham (last full figure on right) on stage at the end of a December 2014 production of It's Only a Play

A 2009 guest appearance on Saving Grace began a new phase of Abraham's career, wherein he has become gradually more prolific onscreen. Further guest appearances include roles on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife between 2011 and 2014. Additionally, Abraham was the primary narrator for the PBS series Nature between 2007 and 2010, narrating 32 episodes (plus one more in 2013). Abraham's most notable television role came about through Showtime's drama series Homeland, in which he portrayed black ops specialist Dar Adal. This role resulted in his first Emmy Award nomination in 2015, followed by a second in 2018.

Abraham has focused on stage work throughout his career, giving notable performances as Pozzo in Mike Nichols's production of Waiting for Godot, Malvolio in Twelfth Night for the New York Shakespeare Festival and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the Off-Broadway Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) in March 2007, which was performed at the Duke Theater in New York and also at the Swan Theater, part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He reprised this role in February 2011, when he replaced Al Pacino in the Public Theater's production.

In the 2010s, he featured prominently in two widely acclaimed films: first as folk music impresario Bud Grossman in the Coen brothers' drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), then as the mysterious Mr. Moustafa in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He was nominated along with the ensemble for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for the later. That same year he returned to Broadway portraying Ira Drew in the revival of Terrence McNally's comedic play It's Only a Play. Abraham starred alongside Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, and Rupert Grint. For his performance he earned a nomination for the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play. In 2016, he played the title role in Classic Stage Company's production of Nathan the Wise.[28]

He reunited with Wes Anderson voicing a role in stop-motion animated film Isle of Dogs (2018), voiced Grimmel in DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019), and played Tony in the Disney+ 2019 live-action Lady and the Tramp. From 2020 to 2021 he acted in the Apple TV+ comedy series Mythic Quest. In 2022 he was fired after being accused of inappropriate behavior while on set.[29] In a response statement, Abraham apologized and stated that he never intended "to offend anyone, I told jokes, nothing more, that upset some of my colleagues and as a result lost a great job with wonderful people."[30] In February 2022, it was revealed that Abraham would be voicing Khonshu in the superhero limited series Moon Knight, set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[31] He starred in the 2022 film adaptation of The Magic Flute based on the opera of the same name. That same year he played Dr. Carl Withers in the Netflix series Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities (2022). In 2023 he portrayed Judge John Sirica in the HBO political drama limited series White House Plumbers.[citation needed]

Murray acted in the HBO series The White Lotus: Sicily (2022) playing the elderly and gregarious grandfather Bert Di Grasso, earning nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Also in 2023 he acted in the film Mother, Couch alongside Ewan McGregor, Taylor Russell, and Ellen Burstyn. The film is premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.[32] In 2024 it was announced that Abraham would return to the stage as David Siegel in the Stephen Schwartz musical The Queen of Versailles starring Kristin Chenoweth at the Emerson Colonial Theatre in Boston.[33]

Personal life


Abraham was married to Kate Hannan for 60 years (1962–2022) until her death on November 19, 2022.[34] At that time, they had two children and one grandchild.[35][36]

In 1993, while filming the movie Surviving the Game in rural Washington state, Abraham was involved in a car crash in which another driver was killed, while Abraham was injured.[37] In January 2010, Abraham scuffled with a thief in the dressing room area during a public rehearsal at the Classic Stage Company in New York City.[38]

Religious beliefs

Abraham has spoken about his faith: "I've attended many churches. I grew up as an Orthodox Christian and I was an altar boy. I love the Society of Friends, the Quakers. I attended their meetings for almost fifteen years. I'm now [in 2008] attending the First Presbyterian Church of New York because they're such a generous, terrific church with outreach. They reach out to old people, to homeless, to A.A., to cross-dressers: it's truly a church of the teachings of Christ. Religion is essential to my life."[39]

Acting credits and accolades

Main articles: F. Murray Abraham on screen and stage and List of awards and nominations received by F. Murray Abraham

Abraham received an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for his performance in Amadeus (1984). He also received a British Academy Film Award nomination for his performance. He has also received a Grammy Award and two Primetime Emmy Award nominations. He has earned three Screen Actors Guild Award nominations with the ensemble casts of Homeland and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). He has earned two Obie Awards for his work in theater for his performances in Uncle Vanya (1984) and The Merchant of Venice (2011).

In July 2004, during a ceremony in Rome, he was awarded the "Premio per gli Italiani nel Mondo". This is a prize distributed by the Marzio Tremaglia foundation and the Italian government to Italian emigrants and their descendants who have distinguished themselves abroad. In 2009, he was recognized by the Alumni Association of the City College of New York with John H. Finley Award in recognition of exemplary dedicated service to the City of New York. In 2010, Abraham was the recipient of The Gielgud Award (Theater) for that year.[40] In 2015, Abraham was an inductee to the American Theater Hall of Fame.[41] He also has an honorary doctorate from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.


  1. ^ Suskind, Alex (October 8, 2014). "F Murray Abraham on Homeland, Broadway and turning 75: 'I am afraid of nothing on stage'". The Guardian. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  2. ^ "Getting to Know F. Murray Abraham". La Stage Times. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Academy Award-Winning Actor F. Murray Abraham | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR". The Diane Rehm Show. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Salomon, Andrew (February 15, 2007). "The Lion in Winter". Backstage.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2007. Retrieved February 15, 2007.
  5. ^ Kirsten, Chuba; Lewis, Hilary (December 12, 2022). "Golden Globes: List of Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 12, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Stark, John (March 18, 1985). "His Meanie Role in Amadeus Makes Nice Guy F. Murray Abraham the Man to Beat for the Oscar". People. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  7. ^ "JOSEPHINE ABRAHAM Obituary (2012) El Paso Times". Legacy.com. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  8. ^ How I Got My Equity Card Archived 2011-04-21 at the Wayback Machine. Actorsequity.org. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  9. ^ Abraham, F. Murray. "How Actor F. Murray Abraham Is Helping Syrian Refugees". AARP. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  10. ^ Abraham, F. Murray (April 10, 2017). "Opinion | F. Murray Abraham: Open Our Doors to Syrians". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2021.
  11. ^ Obituary of Adele Hendricks Abraham (1923–2019), aunt of Murray Abraham, where it is stated she, three of her sisters and her brother Fred Abraham were born in Myklos, now in Syria. Obituary of Marion Abraham Unsell (1914–1998), aunt of Murray Abraham, who died in El Paso in 1988 where it says she was born in Myklos in today's Syria
  12. ^ Coltin, Jeff (2016). "Actor F. Murray Abraham on Syrian refugees and de Blasio's New York". cityandstateny.com.
  13. ^ a b Long, Trish (2008). "Mom recalls boyhood of star-to-be". El Paso Times.
  14. ^ a b "F. Murray Abraham". Theamerican.co.uk.
  15. ^ Tales from the Morgue: Hometown stars – F. Murray Abraham. Elpasotimes.typepad.com (2008-07-10). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  16. ^ Orfalea, Gregory. "The Arab Americans". Aramcoworld.com.
  17. ^ "HB Studio – Notable Alumni | One of the Original Acting Studios in NYC". Hbstudio.org. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  18. ^ Farber, Stephen (September 20, 1984). "The New York Times: Best Pictures". The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  19. ^ a b His Meanie Role in Amadeus Makes Nice Guy F. Murray Abraham the Man to Beat For the Oscar. People.com. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  20. ^ "Is winning an Oscar a curse or a blessing?". Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link) film.com (2007).
  21. ^ Nemy, Enid (April 26, 1985). "BROADWAY". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  22. ^ Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Name of the Rose DVD commentary, Warner Home Video, 2004.
  23. ^ "The Name of the Rose (Der Name der Rose)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  24. ^ Stark, John (October 6, 1986). "An Evil F. Murray Abraham Fights Friar Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose". People. Vol. 26, no. 14. p. 112. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  25. ^ "King Lear at American Repertory Theater Loeb Drama Center 1991". www.abouttheartists.com.
  26. ^ The official source for Broadway Information. IBDB. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  27. ^ Span, Paula (September 29, 1986). "F. Murray Abraham, Take 1". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  28. ^ "Theater: F. Murray Abraham Anchors Nathan The Wise by Michael Giltz, The Huffington Post, 14 April 2016
  29. ^ Roundtree, Cheyenne (April 14, 2023). "F. Murray Abraham Was Kicked Off 'Mythic Quest' for Sexual Misconduct". Rolling Stone.
  30. ^ Otterson, Joe (April 20, 2023). "F. Murray Abraham Apologizes After 'Mythic Quest' Dismissal: 'I Told Jokes That Upset Some Colleagues'". Variety.
  31. ^ "Moon Knight Image 3". DMED Media. Archived from the original on February 15, 2022. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  32. ^ "Charades, UTA Board 'Mother, Couch' With Taylor Russell, Ewan McGregor (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. July 31, 2023. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  33. ^ "Kristin Chenoweth and F. Murray Abraham Set for Pre-Broadway Premiere of Stephen Schwartz's The Queen of Versailles in Boston". Broadway.com. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  34. ^ "KATE ABRAHAM OBITUARY". Legacy.com. Retrieved January 13, 2023.
  35. ^ González, María Cortés. "Josephine Abraham, 96, loved life, according to famous son F. Murray Abraham". ElPasoTimes.com. Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  36. ^ "The Movie : F. Murray Abraham". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved September 28, 2007.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link). amadeusimmortal.com
  37. ^ Seattle Times News Services, Seattle Times Staff (September 5, 1993). "Actor Hurt In Highway Crash". The Seattle Times. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  38. ^ Healy, Patrick (January 26, 2010). "F. Murray Abraham: Action Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  39. ^ Signore, John Del (April 21, 2008). "F. Murray Abraham, Actor". Gothamist.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
  40. ^ F. Murray Abraham Gielgud Award 2010. Vimeo.com (2011-01-17). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  41. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame Ceremony, Honoring Susan Stroman, F. Murray Abraham, Philip J. Smith and More, Presented Tonight". Playbill.com. May 4, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.