Actress. Born November 10, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia, to parents Sharon Murphy and Angelo Bertolotti. Murphy’s father was heavily involved in organized crime, and spent most of his life in and out of prison. As a result, Murphy’s parents split when she was only two years old.
Murphy and her mother moved to Edison, New Jersey, shortly after the divorce. It was during this time that Murphy became interested in acting and performing. To encourage her talents, Murphy’s mother enrolled her in Verne Fowler’s School of Dance and Theater in Colonia, New Jersey, when she was five years old. It was there that Murphy took dance and voice lessons until she was in her early teens.
By the time Murphy was eight, she had determined that she wanted to be a star. She began pushing her mother to help her get head shots, hire a manager, and drive her into Manhattan for auditions. When Murphy was 12, her mother finally relented. Almost immediately, Murphy began landing jobs for television commercials. From there, she began making brief appearances on sitcoms such as Murphy Brown and Boy Meets World. Elated by her success, Murphy and her mother relocated to Los Angeles in 1991, when the actress was 14 years old, in order to further Murphy’s acting career. She got her big break in TV that same year, as a regular on the Fox sitcom Drexell’s Class (1991). When she wasn’t working on set, Brittany spent her time studying at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California.
In 1995, Murphy entered the national spotlight in the popular film Clueless, starring across Alicia Silverstone. A modern take on the popular Jane Austen novel, Emma, the movie was a surprise hit, grossing more than $11 million in its first weekend at the box office. Murphy was suddenly a star.
After the success of Clueless, Murphy was offered a series of critically acclaimed film roles, including starring roles in Girl, Interrupted (1999) with Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie; 8 Mile (2002) with rapper Eminem; and Sin City (2005) with a star-studded cast that included Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba.
In December of 2009, however, Murphy’s life seemed to be taking an unfortunate turn. Her husband, screenwriter Simon Monjack, was hospitalized for health problems. Later in the month, it was revealed that she had also been unexpectedly dropped from her project The Caller, for which she had been shooting in Puerto Rico. Initial reports indicated that she had been fired from the film, but Murphy denied the rumors.
Shortly after the news that she had lost the job due to her poor attitude and spotty attendance on set, Murphy died of cardiac arrest. The actress was only 32 years old