For thirty years, Franklin D. Murphy was the dominant figure in the cultural development of Southern California, elevating the city into an arts capital. Murphy utilized his relationships with the founders and scions of some of America's greatest fortunes – Ahmanson, Rockefeller, Ford, Mellon, and Annenberg – to direct the largess of the wealthy into the cultural institutions of his choosing.
“At the height of his cultural and educational authority, Franklin Murphy was everywhere in Los Angeles. In this fine biography, Margaret Leslie Davis has traced the life and work of arguably the most important cultural figure in all of twentieth century Los Angeles.”
– William Deverell, Director. Huntington-USC Institute
on California and the West
Franklin D. Murphy served as chancellor of UCLA from 1960 to 1968. As the intellectual upheaval of the 1960's gathered steam in universities around the world, Murphy warned educators that they were in the midst of “the most extraordinary revolution ever, and only revolutionary minds. . . can face it successfully.”
In this first full biography of Franklin Murphy (1916-1994), Margaret Leslie Davis delivers the compelling story of how Murphy, as chancellor of UCLA and later as chief executive of the Times Mirror media empire, was able to influence academia, the media, and cultural foundations to reshape a fundamentally provincial city.
“In a brilliant work that includes a set of now-it-can-be told institutional histories, Margaret Leslie Davis writes the history of an exceptional city at an exceptional time through the life story of a little-known but utterly exceptional man.”
– Jack Miles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “God: A Biography”
Davis's intriguing account brings to light the influence of L.A.'s powerful families and chronicles the mixed motives behind large public endeavors. Channeling more than one billion dollars into the city's arts and educational infrastructure, Murphy elevated Los Angeles to a vibrant world class city positioned for its role in the new era of global trade and cross-cultural arts.
“Margaret Leslie Davis' ongoing examination of Los Angeles through the lives of its civic and cultural leaders is a grand project, deserving of generous praise. More than any writer of our time, she is methodically supplying this city with an understanding of itself. Davis' devotion to the task is evident in her choice of subjects and in the rigorous research that is her signature. She is amassing a body of work without peer and, in the process, is delivering subtle lessons for today's leaders – or what's left of them.”
— Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Thankfully, Murphy has a biographer whose protean knowledge rivals her subject’s. Margaret Leslie Davis's fluency across topics — medicine and education; art and architecture; industry and media; philanthropy, politics, and civic affairs — is absolutely stunning.”
— Rick Wartzman, Author of “The King of California: J.G. Boswell and The Making of a Secret American Empire”
Buy Book on Amazon ›