Bill Murray, Marijuana Dealer? Book Recounts Story

| by Nik Bonopartis
Actor Bill Murray in GhostbustersActor Bill Murray in Ghostbusters

Comedian Bill Murray has a knack for showing up unexpectedly and doing the unexpected.

The internet is peppered with tales of Murray showing up unannounced and crashing the karaoke parties of complete strangers. Other stories have Murray diving behind bars and serving drinks alongside members of hip-hop group Wu Tang Clan, gleefully insulting co-stars like Chevy Chase and Lucy Liu on set, and drunkenly driving a golf cart to a nightclub in Stockholm, Sweden.

Most of the stories involve Murray enjoying life and doing random things for laughs. But a new story -- or at least, a recently revealed story -- details what an excerpt from a tell-all book, published in Esquire, calls "one of the worst days of his life."

The day was Sept. 21, 1970, and Murray was in line at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. It was his 20th birthday and he was waiting to board a flight back to Regis College in Denver, where he was studying pre-med. Murray jokingly told another passenger he had two bombs in his suitcase, and the book's author, Robert Schnakenberg, says the passenger didn't rat the future comedian out, a ticket agent did.

Soon, a pair of U.S. Marshals showed up to search Murray's bags. Murray the pre-med student didn't have any bombs -- but he did have two 5-pound bricks of marijuana, according to the book, a headline-worthy amount worth about $20,000 then, and about $120,000 today.

But the bust did make headlines -- it was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. Murray got five years' probation and avoided jail, thanks to the fact that he was a first-time offender without any previous brushes with the law. Murray told Schnakenberg he dropped out of Regis College -- now known as Regis University -- before the school could kick him out, and thus his short pre-med career was over.

But it wouldn't be a Bill Murray story without a heroic act, and in this case Murray saved one of his "customers." The quick-thinking future comedian swallowed a check from one of his marijuana-loving clients before cops arrested him, he told the magazine. He's never revealed the name of the customer.

"That guy," Murray said, "owes me his life and reputation."

Sources: Esquire, USA Today, The Telegraph / Photo credit: Columbia Pictures via Consequence of Sound

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