Actress Brittany Murphy was a cordial star first reported Sunday that actress Brittany Murphy was dead of an apparent cardiac arrest at her Hollywood home. She was only 32. The actress was well-known for roles in “Clueless,” “8 Mile,” “Riding in Cars with Boys” and “Girl, Interrupted.”

Her obituary ran on page A7 of our Nation/World section today.

In 2003, she was front and center on the cover our our features section, then called Today.

I wrote about Murphy when she came to San Francisco as part of a press junket. I sat right next to her with other members of the media, asking questions about her new movie with Dakota Fanning,Uptown Girls.”

The interview was supposed to start at 10 a.m. It didn’t happen until 2 p.m. The organizers blamed the broadcast journalism sector, saying they took too much time. One of the broadcast journalists walking out blamed a lack of organization. You get the picture.

When the interview finally happened, Murphy was over-the-top sweet. She offered all in the room water, even pouring a couple glasses for some of the reporters. She laughed easily and answered tough questions, most specifically about her then-recent weight loss, which tabloids had proclaimed anorexia.

She was with Marley Shelton, also a generously friendly actress who went on to star in the recently canceled show Eleventh Hour. (CBS, I think you got that one wrong. That was a good one.)

Murphy was genuine and funny. When her celebrity handlers came to escort her out of the room, she waived them off and gave the group 20 extra minutes of answers. I pulled the story out of our archive and republished it. You can find it here.

I, like many others, was surprised to hear of Murphy’s untimely passing.

My husband, who was my boyfriend then when he drove me to San Francisco and waited and waited and waited for the interview to be done, was also shocked. We both remember the day pretty vividly, mainly because he got a $300 ticket for making a wrong turn on the streets of San Francisco.

Celebrity often does not invade the reporting of a community newspaper, but in 2003 it did for a moment. And Murphy proved to be a shining example of how unpretentious Hollywood starlets can be. I’ll be watching Clueless in her honor for the Christmas weekend.

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