Dennis Stuart Murphy, Producer on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' and 'The Bridge,' Dies at 72

Dennis Murphy - Publicity - P 2018
Courtesy of Cynthia Fujikawa

He earned an Emmy nomination for 'ER' and worked on 'Friday the 13th Part 2' and 'Tales From the Crypt.'

Dennis Stuart Murphy, a veteran producer and unit production manager who did work on such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Powder and on TV series including ER and The Bridge, has died. He was 72.

Murphy died Jan. 24 in Los Angeles of a brain hemorrhage related to acute myeloid leukemia, his wife, Cynthia Fujikawa, said.

In a career that spanned 50 years and more than 100 projects, Murphy received an Emmy nomination for outstanding drama series in 1995 for co-producing the pilot for NBC's ER and earned a Humanitas prize for co-producing the 1991 Lifetime telefilm Wildflower, directed by Diane Keaton and featuring Reese Witherspoon in one of her first onscreen roles.

Murphy also was a co-producer on the two seasons of FX's The Bridge, starring Demian Bichir; was UPM on the pilot for TNT's adaptation of Animal Kingdom; and served as an associate producer on HBO's Tales From the Crypt.

In addition to co-producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) and Powder (1995), Murphy also worked on such movies as Alan Parker’s Fame (1980), Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), Re-Animator (1985) and Phantom (2013).

His last producing project, Dear Dictator, a comedy starring Michael Caine and Katie Holmes, will be released in March.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Murphy graduated from Indian Hill High School, earned his BA in English from Wittenberg University and pursued a master of divinity degree in theology from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University.

After a year working for American Documentary Films, Murphy walked into the DGA building on West 57th Street in New York and asked for contact information on movies shooting in town. That led to a job as a production assistant on MGM's House of Dark Shadows (1970).

Murphy later was employed on sets as a electrician and a gaffer before he became an assistant director, location manager and production manager. He joined the DGA in 1977 and moved to Los Angeles in 1984.

After a 1994 visit to the Hopi reservation in Arizona, Murphy led a push that helped raise $100,000 in community funds to help build a radio station, KUYI Hopi Radio, for the locals. It went on the air in 2000 and is still going.

Murphy also was a vice president of Plaza Community Services, which serves Latino communities as the oldest social agency in Los Angeles, and he donated a great deal of his time to the Silverlake Children's Theatre Group.

Murphy once ran the Los Angeles Marathon after reading about the event just that morning, and in recent years climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and completed a five-day hike to Machu Picchu.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his children Sam, Nell, Chance and Ryan and grandchildren Carter, Ellis and Honor.

A public memorial will be held at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 18, at DGA headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Online tributes can be posted here.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hopi Radio, the Silverlake Children's Theatre Group and/or Plaza Community Services.