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Bill Murray gets appreciation from a 'Big Bad Book'

Robert Schnakenberg's "The Big Bad Book of Bill

Robert Schnakenberg's "The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor." Credit: Quirk Publishing

It's been 38 years since Bill Murray burst on the scene as a Not Ready for Prime-Time Player on "Saturday Night Live." Now Murray is ready to be the subject of a book that salutes his talents.

Robert Schnakenberg, who's authored tomes on Christopher Walken and William Shatner, showcases the star of "Caddyshack" and "Ghostbusters" in "The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray" (Quirk, $22.95), which came out last week. The book is modestly subtitled "A Critical Appreciation of the World's Finest Actor" and offers an A to Z breakdown of all things Murray, from his movies to how he celebrates the holidays. Here are some things you'll learn about Murray, who turns 65 on Sept. 21.

That other 'SNL'

After being turned down for the original cast of NBC's "Saturday Night Live," ABC decided Murray was ready for prime time as part of "Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell." The show, a doomed attempt to make the pompous, nasal sportscaster the next Ed Sullivan, also featured older sibling Brian Doyle Murray and future filmmaker Christopher Guest. ABC pulled the plug after two months.

Just say no

Though Murray's judgment has been mostly good in choosing roles, he's made some major blunders. Among the roles he turned down: the pilot played by Robert Hays in "Airplane!" (1980), and the title role in "Forrest Gump" (1994), which earned Tom Hanks an Oscar. In a 2014 interview, Murray added that he still has never seen "Gump."

Groundhog daze

One of Murray's most popular movies was the 1993 comedy "Groundhog Day," in which he played a weather forecaster who keeps reliving the same day. The gentle comedy might have taken a different turn had the scene in which Murray takes a chain saw to his hotel room remained or another in which the actor walked into a snowstorm minus a stitch of clothing. Murray told the screenwriter, "I don't do naked."

Cranky co-stars

Murray was known for sometimes being difficult on the set, and occasionally had run-ins with his co-stars. He and Chevy Chase had a falling-out during their "SNL" days and therefore did their best to never be on the set at the same time while shooting the 1980 comedy "Caddyshack." He also didn't love Lucy Liu or director McG (whom Murray head-butted) while making "Charlie's Angels." Worst of all may have been his furry co-star who had the title role in "Groundhog Day" -- the creature reportedly bit Murray on several occasions.

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