A rep for the actress said in a statement released Sunday: "In this time of sadness, the family thanks you for your love and support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy."
Along with co-star Alicia Silverstone, Murphy first came to prominence thanks to a memorable turn as Tai in the instantly quotable 1995 teen classic "Clueless." The New Jersey-born Murphy provided Tai with the perfect street-smart sass counterpoint to Silverstone's Cher.
In a 2006 interview with MTV News, Murphy recalled her happy times on the set of the film. "I'd never been in a film before, so it was really exciting," she said. "I was only 15, and I was really intimidated. I felt as though I was the freshman watching the seniors. The one person who bridged the gap was Alicia [Silverstone]. She always was very kind to me. She was the person I spent the most time with — her and her dog."
Always an actress who seemed to be juggling multiple projects, Murphy worked steadily after the her high profile big break, notably alongside Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder in "Girl Interrupted" and opposite Clive Owen in the noir thriller "Sin City," in which she played a femme fatale.
In 2002, she appeared as Eminem's onscreen (and rumored offscreen) love interest in the box-office smash, "8 Mile." Looking back on the experience in 2006 she told MTV News, "When I remember '8 Mile,' I recall very specifically music being everywhere. Marshall [Mathers] was recording Encore and everything for '8 Mile' at the time. I remember when the whole cast was brought in to hear 'Lose Yourself' and watching Mekhi [Phifer] hear it for the first time. That was really fun. There was music being created everywhere, and it was such a large part of the film as well."
Prior to her casting in "Clueless," Murphy had appeared in various sitcoms, including "Frasier" and "Blossom." At the age of 9 she proved to have musical aspiration when she starred in a production of "Les Misérables." In recent years, Murphy dabbled increasingly in music, collaborating with Paul Oakenfold on the 2006 single "Faster Kill Pussycat" and performing on the soundtrack to the huge box office hit "Happy Feet" with covers of songs by Earth Wind and Fire and Queen.
Murphy remained a prolific actress in recent years. There are at least two films she is known to have shot before her passing: "Abandoned" and "Something Wicked."