Actress Brittany Murphy, best known for her performances in Clueless, 8 Mile, and Riding in Cars with Boys, died Dec. 20 after going into cardiac arrest, according to law enforcement officials. She was 32.
Murphy, whose work alternated between light comedy and darker, more dramatic roles, also starred in such hits as Sin City, Girl, Interrupted, and Don’t Say a Word. In a review of the comedy Little Black Book, Roger Ebert praised Murphy’s onscreen persona: “She has the quality of seeming immediately there on the screen, open to possibility, unrehearsed, unstudied, natural, appealing. She hasn’t had the roles yet to prove it, but she is a born movie star.”
Murphy was born in Atlanta and raised in New Jersey. After starring roles in regional theater productions and television commercials, she got her first big break at 14 as one of the stars of the Fox sitcom Drexell’s Class. However, her movie career took off when she co-starred as one of Alicia Silverstone’s best friends in the hit 1995 comedy Clueless. She also had a number of prominent voice roles, most notable as Luanne in the Fox animated series King of the Hill, for which she won an Annie Award for Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production in 2005. As a singer, she had a dance hit with “Faster Kill Pussycat,” a collaboration with DJ Paul Oakenfold.
Her most recent major roles were in 2006, when she starred in The Dead Girl (which was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards), and as a voice actress in the hit animated film Happy Feet, which won the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2007 Academy Awards.
Various news outlets reported that Murphy was discovered unconscious by her mother Sharon at the home of Murphy’s husband, screenwriter Simon Monjack, in Los Angeles in the early hours of Dec. 20. She was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.
Murphy is survived by her parents and her husband Monjack, whom she married in 2007.