Great Couples: Gerald & Sara Murphy
You are probably scratching your head asking yourself, who the heck is Gerald & Sara Murphy? Well you might know some of their famous friends who they footed the bill during the 20’s and 30’s to explore the French Riviera, Paris, England and New York City. They were the original expatriate Americans who landed in Paris in 1921 and took the front seat or the driver seat for the Lost Generation. Known for their wild parties and extravagant weeks or weekends in the country or by the sea.
Gerald Murphy was born in Boston to an affluent family that owned large leather goods company and he went to Yale University and became apart of the Skull & Bone’s Society. In his freshman year he befriended a rather musically inclined gentleman named Cole Porter. The two would remain friends for the rest of their lives. Some say Gerald actually died from a broken heart because he passed two days after Cole did in 1964. Porter himself credited Murphy for his sky rocketing career, thanks in part to the circles of elite he introduced Porter into.
Sara Wiborg was born in Cincinnati, Ohio 5 years before Gerald and her father was chemist who created a ink empire across the world. In her teen years, Sara’s father moved the family to Germany and the family was instantly ushered into european society. The family would eventually move back to the states and land in New York City and the Hamptoms. It was in the Hamptoms that Gerald and Sara first met but only as friends. Sara was in her late teens and Gerald just entering his teen years. For many years the two were just friends who shared many circles. The couple would finally come together around 1913 and eventually marry in 1916. Sadly their families had their hands deep in their relationship from the very beginning.
By 1921 the couple had 3 children and were feeling suffocated by their parents meddling. They decided to jump on the next ship and move their family to Paris. They would become apart of a massive wave of Americans who moved to Europe, starting a new wave of Expatriates. Once settled in Paris, they did not waste time and immediately connected with old friends who were also calling Paris home. Cole Porter was a frequent house guest along with the Fitzgerald’s, the Hemingway’s, Dorothy Park and Robert Benchley. The couple never gave up the opportunity to make new friends, in Paris they would become close and fast friends with Picasso, Cocteau, Léger and John Dos Passo. From these inspiring friends came the fruit of Gerald’s creative side as he began to paint.
By 1923 the couple would venture down to the French Riviera and would setup home there for almost a decade. By the 1929 the couple found their son was battling tuberculosis and moved him to Switzerland for intense therapy to fight the disease. It was also in Switzerland that the couples friendships with Parker and Benchely grew. In 1932 the couple moved back to the states, where Gerald would take over the family business from his ailing father. Sadly when Gerald left Europe he also left behind his desire to paint. Although they were no longer the belles of Europe they still remained longtime friends with many of those they looped together in famous circles. Some have credited their ability to mesh great personalities as the catalyst for the public persona of the Lost Generation. Stein might have been the one to coin the term or guide the Lost Generations visions. It was the Murphy’s who furnished the experiences and great adventures for many of the Lost Generation. So many amazing stories came from parties or visits with the Murphy’s. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald hurling Sara Murphy’s fine Italian crystal across the garden during a drunken rage.
Of coarse Sara and Gerald make a great costume because they were also impeccable and inventive dressers. Just take a look at some of the photos I've posted of the couple.