You gotta admit, a Murphy bed is a great tool for comedy. Ever since the early 20th century, when—according to our dictionary—the inventor William L. Murphy created a bed that could be “folded or swung into a closet,” the Murphy bed has been a popular prop in movies, television, and even cartoons.
Want some examples of movies with Murphy beds? Well, as early as 1916, a Murphy bed was featured in the Charlie Chaplin film, “One A.M.” In it, an inebriated Chaplin spends a hilarious six minutes battling with a Murphy bed in a series of LOL pratfalls and flips. That same year, the Keystone Cops featured a Murphy bed in their silent, slapstick comedy, “Bath Tub Perils.”
By the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Murphy bed was often used in movies with more complex plots. The Oscar-nominated Viva
cious Lady (1938) pairs the leggy Ginger Rogers and the craggy Jimmy Stewart in a sexy and funny scene involving—you guessed it—a Murphy bed. In “Nothing But Pleasure” (1940), Buster Keaton tries in vain to maneuver a drunken woman into a Murphy bed in his motel room.
In the 1960’s, the wall bed makes the leap to sophisticated drama. In the movie “You Only Live Twice” (1967), James Bond (played by the dashing Sean Connery) is trapped in a Murphy bed—while wooing a stunning brunette—and is seemingly machine-gunned to death.
In the 1963 classic, “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” Phil Silvers uses his comedic skills to great effect when he’s hurled from a fire truck ladder through a window, and lands on a Murphy bed that immediately folds back into the wall.
Last but not least, the Mel Brooks comedy “Silent Movie” (1963) features a motel’s neon sign that reads, “Murphy Beds—Charming To The Unsophisticated.”
Of course, Brooks can’t make the same claim today. Zoom-Room, an electronic, remote controlled wall bed, catapults the Murphy bed concept into the sophisticated heart of the 21st century.