Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story

Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story is an American TV film directed by Peter Levin. First released on April 7, 2003 in the United States, it received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including one for Outstanding Made for Television Movie and one for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story
DVD Cover
Written byRonni Kern
Directed byPeter Levin
StarringThora Birch
Michael Riley
Robert Bockstael
Makyla Smith
Kelly Lynch
Theme music composerLouis Febre
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Michael Mahoney
Editor(s)Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
Running time91 minutes
Original networkLifetime Television
Original releaseApril 7, 2003 (2003-04-07)


Thora Birch stars as Liz Murray, one of two daughters of an extremely dysfunctional Bronx family. Her father watches Jeopardy! and knows all the answers. Their bathtub doesn't drain so she has to shower while standing on an overturned bucket, to stay out of the fetid water. As a young girl, Murray lives with her sister, their drug-addicted, schizophrenic mother and their father, also a drug addict who is intelligent, but has AIDS, lacks social skills, and is not conscientious. She is removed from the home and put into the care system as her father cannot take care of her. At 15 she moves in with her mother, sister and grandfather who sexually abused her mother and her aunt. After a run-in with her grandfather, she runs away with a girl from school who is being abused at home. After her mother Jean Murray dies of AIDS, which she got from sharing needles during her drug abuse, she gets a 'slap in the face' by her mother's death and begins her work to finish high school, which she amazingly completed in two years, rather than the usual four. She becomes a star student and earns a scholarship to Harvard University through an essay contest sponsored by The New York Times.



Awards and nominations

2003 Emmy Awards
  • Nominated: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie — Thora Birch
  • Nominated: Outstanding Made for Television Movie
  • Nominated: Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special — Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
2003 Casting Society of America (Artios)
  • Nominated - Best Casting for TV Movie of the Week — Susan Edelman
2004 American Cinema Editors (Eddies)
  • Won - Best Edited Miniseries or Movie for Commercial Television — Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
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