|Madalyn Murray O’Hair Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 6 in|
|Date of Birth||April 13, 1919|
|Date of Death||September 29, 1995|
Madalyn Murray O’Hair was an American activist who founded the organization American Atheists.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Mad Madalyn, The Pope of Atheism
She was born on April 13, 1919.
On September 29, 1995, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was murdered (along with her son Jon Garth Murray and granddaughter Robin Murray O’Hair) at the age of 76 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas, United States.
Beechview, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States
She resided in Austin, Texas, United States.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair studied at Rossford High School in Rossford, Ohio, and graduated in 1936. She later got enrolled at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949.
After that, she went on to complete a law degree from the South Texas College of Law but failed the bar exam.
- Father – John Irwin Mays
- Mother – Lena Christina (née Scholle)
- Siblings – John Irwin Jr. (known as “Irv”; Older Brother)
- Others – Robin Murray O’Hair (Granddaughter; later adapted by Madalyn Murray O’Hair) (Was involved with the American Atheists organization)
5 ft 6 in or 167.5 cm
72 kg or 158.5 lbs
Boyfriend / Spouse
Madalyn Murray O’Hair dated –
- John Roths – She got married to a steelworker named John Roths in the year 1941 and the duo later separated when they both enlisted for World War II service. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps while she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. The duo divorced in 1946.
- William J. Murray, Jr. (1945) – Madalyn became romantically involved with a married Roman Catholic named William J. Murray, Jr. while she was posted to a cryptography position in Italy in 1945. William refused to divorce his wife while Madalyn adopted the name “Madalyn Murray”. On May 25, 1946, she gave birth to their son named William J. Murray III (nicknamed “Bill”).
- Michael Fiorillo (1953) – In 1953, she had a fling with Michael Fiorillo and gave birth to their son, Jon Garth Murray, on November 16, 1954.
- Richard O’Hair – She married U.S. Marine Richard O’Hair in 1965 and subsequently changed her surname. The relationship has been described as “textbook codependents” and the couple separated sometime after the marriage. However, they remained legally married until his death in 1978.
Race / Ethnicity
Madalyn Murray O’Hair was of Scots-Irish descent on her father’s side and had German roots on her mother’s side.
- Sarcastic sense of humor and brutal honesty
- Her laugh
She was baptized into her father’s Presbyterian church when she was 4 years old.
She later became an atheist.
Madalyn Murray O’Hair Facts
- She founded the non-profit organization American Atheists in 1963 and it has been described as “a nationwide movement which defends the civil rights of non-believers, works for the separation of church and state and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy”.
- She reportedly unsuccessfully sought to defect to the Soviet Union twice and later stated, “Well, if they’ll keep us from going to Russia where there is some freedom, we’ll just have to change America.”
- In the 1976 presidential election, Madalyn Murray O’Hair endorsed Jimmy Carter because of his opposition to mandatory school prayer, his support for s*x education in public schools, and his stance on ecological matters.
- In 1977, she was arrested for disorderly conduct in Austin.
- Madalyn was estranged from her son William who became a Christian in 1980 and said, “One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times. He is beyond human forgiveness.”
- Her son William has stated that Madalyn was a socialist and showed sympathies towards the Soviet Union.
- The October 2004 episode titled Eosphoros of the police procedural drama television series Law & Order: Criminal Intent is loosely based on O’Hair’s murder.
- In the 2017 biographical drama film titled The Most Hated Woman in America, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was portrayed by Melissa Leo.
- She described herself as a “militant feminist”.
Featured Image by Alan Light / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED