With a public life marked by both tragedy and triumph, Audie Murphy is perhaps most remembered for his leading roles in a number of Western films that spanned the 1950s and 60s. However, Murphy’s gripping life story – which often leaves film critics and fans in perpetual awe – doesn’t begin with acting, but rather on treacherous battlefields. Born in Texas in 1925, Murphy first become well known to the American public as the most decorated U.S. soldier of World War II, earning 33 awards and medals, including three Purple Hearts and the prestigious Medal of Honor. In July 1945, Murphy was featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, which sparked calls from Hollywood producers, who fervently prodded Murphy to begin a film career. Their efforts did not go in vain, and Murphy went on to star in films such as Ride a Crooked Trail, Bullet for a Bad Man, and even his own biopic, To Hell and Back, based on his bestselling autobiography chronicling his life as a soldier in World War II. Murphy appeared in more than 40 films during his film career before his tragic death in a 1971 plane crash. Murphy was just 45.