F. Murray Abraham, the Academy Award-winning actor who grew up in El Paso, is celebrating his 83rd birthday today!

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Mr. Abraham won his Oscar for his portrayal of Salieri in the 1984 film Amadeus.

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That movie won not only Best Actor for Murray but also Best Director and Best Picture. F. Murray Abraham steals every scene he’s in.

There are several celebrities who spent a brief time in their life in El Paso. There are some who were born here but moved away at such a young age that they don’t have any memory of it. F. Murray Abraham, though, moved with his family to El Paso when he was four years old.

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He grew up here and graduated from El Paso High. He attended Texas Western (now UTEP) and worked at one of the Farah garment factories.  His family ran a landmark Italian restaurant on Mesa Street, Como’s, that only closed a few years ago. Also, his mother was kind enough to let me hold his Oscar statuette. That was very cool.

Mr. Abraham did a recent interview in the Wall Street Journal and he talked about his upbringing and years in El Paso. Here’s the link to that interview. It has a paywall, so here are some of the highlights.

Murray (he once told me I could call him Murray) said that when he was young he joined a gang. Not a BAD gang, mind you. They were called The Rogues and they engaged in some minor delinquencies like vandalism, joy-riding in stolen cars, and some non-lethal fighting with other gangs.

He talks about once getting in a fight (fists, no guns) with a tougher gang. The other Rogues ran off and left him to take the beating. So, Murray Abraham decided to focus on theater instead of thug life. He won a state acting competition in Austin when he was in high school and got into Texas Western where he pursued his career.

So, if you were a former member of The Rogues, you should feel really bad that you let such a universally loved and talented artist to the mercy of his enemies.


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