The Murphy Bed was invented around 1900, and it has continued to fascinate since. Not only is it comedic, but it's functional, and a bit of a miracle for anyone living in a small space.
The Murphy Bed is both whimsical and bad-ass, creating a magical secret chamber in your home, while maintaining a kind of James Bond-ish coolness. So let's get intimate with the Murphy Bed with some fun (and gruesome) facts:
- According to Smithsonian Mag, the Murphy Bed was originally invented around 1900 in San Francisco, when William Lawrence Murphy "was falling for a young opera singer and courting customs at that time would not permit a lady to enter a gentleman’s bedroom. His invention allowed him to stow his bed in his closet, transforming his one-room apartment from a bedroom into a parlor."
- Murphy then formed the Murphy Bed Company, and patented his "In-A-Door" bed in 1908. He never trademarked the name "Murphy Bed," however.
- Murphy Beds peaked in 1925, when the company moved its corporate headquarters to New York City.
- Bed historian Robyn Einhorn of the Smithsonian in Washington says owning a Murphy Bed became a status symbol—"People would move into these hotels in New York and they would have a suite which would include a Murphy bed, so they could pick up the bed and have a parlor."
- The grandson of inventor William, Clark W. Murphy, has been the president of the company since 1983.
- Sometimes there are closets under them:
- Murphy Beds have killed before, and they'll probably kill again. In 2005, two women were entrapped and suffocated by a collapsing Murphy bed. In 1982, a man died from suffocating inside a Murphy bed.
- But perhaps the most horrifying Murphy Bed story comes from Liverpool, where "a woman's final trip to her old family home turned into a horrifying nightmare when she discovered her grandmother's mummified corpse stuffed into a folding bed—still wearing her favorite nightgown. Abigail Larson, 72, died when her fold-away bed—commonly known as a Murphy bed—lurched backward into its cabinet as she slept, pinning the gray-haired granny between the mattress and the wall."
- Oddly, there are no B horror movies in which the Murphy Bed is the villain. C'mon, Syfy network.
- The beds have showed up in Hollywood productions, however. Not only in the above Charlie Chaplin flick, but in Police Academy II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Laverne & Shirley, and Family Guy.
- Windsor Tower, a 1929 hotel turned apartment building, still has Murphy Beds in their studios (see them in this video).
- And finally, the oddest Murphy Bed lives in New York... there is a Piano Bed at the Brooklyn Museum!