Herbert Lee Murrie was born in Chicago, Illinois on September 4, 1935. Herbert's father Benjamin immigrated from Russia to the United States when he was six and his mother Anne arrived from Russia at the age of seventeen.
Benjamin was an orphan, and was the ward of his older sister. He grew up on the East side of New York City. Some of his closest friends were Eddie Cantor, a famous comedian, and Al Jolson, a famous vaudeville singer. Benjamin joined the two in vaudeville at a time when a profession of that type was not considered very respectable. His career was very short lived, as his sister and custodian removed him from the business. Years later Murrie's father became a semi-pro baseball player.
In 1932, Benjamin's first wife died and he was left with a 12-year-old son, Bernard. He soon met Murrie's mother, and they were married. Hopes to have a better chance to earn a living during the Great Depression drove the family to move to Chicago. Herbert was born three years later.
In 1946, at the age of 11 years old, Herbert's father died of a massive heart attack. It happened at the fishing pier, on a morning that Herbert decided to sleep in. Fishing had been a passion, and the early morning father/son time was something both cherished. Herbert's father's death has impacted him in many ways. He is unable to get close to others including his own family, his fear of loss has never left him. His mother never remarried and passed away in 1992 at the age of 91.
Herbert's only sibling, his brother Bernard, joined the Army Air Forces during World War II as a navigator at the age of eighteen. After the war, he met his wife, and the couple moved back to New York. Herbert was basically an only child at this time, as he rarely saw his brother after.
Herbert was raised in a middle class neighborhood on the far North side of Chicago. Fortunate enough to never be more than three blocks away from beautiful Lake Michigan, Herbert would spend summers at parks playing his beloved game of baseball or fishing with his father at the pier.
His passion and his dream was to be a major league baseball player like millions of other kids, not an artist. A dream that lasted throughout college until a freak knee accident ended that. And although his father had been a semi-pro baseball player himself, he saw something in his son's art when he was only five or six years old. He was constantly encouraging Herbert. He had a great influence on his art career. When Herbert was nine, his father went to an art teacher, Lucille Layton, herself a prominent watercolorist, who held classes in her apartment in the building where they lived. At the time she only admitted adults, she did his father the favor of giving him a two week trial period. Herbert shined throughout the trial and was accepted into the class.