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Eddie Murphy - Biography


Comedian and actor Eddie Murphy
Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images


April 3, 1961

Eddie Murphy Overview:

Quick Eddie Murphy Facts:

  • Eddie Murphy was born and raised in Brooklyn and Roosevelt, New York.
  • He began performing stand-up comedy at age 15.
  • At age 19, Murphy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, where he spent four years in the cast and became a huge star in the process.
  • He made his feature film debut in 1982's 48 Hrs., quickly becoming a full-fledged movie star. With a string of huge box office hits, Murphy is still the second highest-grossing American actor of all time.
  • He has released two stand-up concert films, Delirious in 1983 and Eddie Murphy: Raw in 1987.
  • His brother, Charlie Murphy, is also a very successful stand-up comic, best known for his work on Dave Chappelle's Comedy Central series Chappelle's Show.
  • In 2007, Murphy was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in the musical Dreamgirls, but lost (in an upset) to Alan Arkin.

Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live:

At just age 19, Eddie Murphy joined the cast of Saturday Night Live. The original Not Ready for Prime Time Players and creator/producer Lorne Michaels had already left the show, with Murphy joining as part of the Jean Doumanian era. Though he was a featured player for a few weeks, it wasn't long before Murphy became the show's biggest star thanks to characters like Buckwheat, Gumby, Mr. Robinson (of "Mr. Robinson's Neighborhood"), Stevie Wonder and many, many more. He and cast mate Joe Piscopo dominated the Doumanian years and essentially rescued the show from being canceled following the departure of the original cast. After making several successful films during his time at SNL, Murphy left the show in 1984 after four seasons to pursue a movie career full time.

In the years since his departure, Murphy has never participated in any cast reunions or retrospective specials.

Eddie Murphy, Movie Star:

In 1982, Murphy took a role in the buddy cop comedy 48 Hrs., and a movie star was created practically overnight. Throughout the '80s, Murphy cranked out hit after hit, and was responsible for some of the biggest box office successes of the decade (including Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II and The Golden Child). In 1989, Murphy experienced one of his first big setbacks when Harlem Nights, a movie he starred in, co-wrote, produced and directed, failed to perform at the box office. A string of disappointments and vanity projects followed, leading many to speculate that Murphy's reign as box office champion was a thing of the past.

In 1996, however, Murphy reinvented himself as a star of primarily family films with the success of The Nutty Professor, a remake of the Jerry Lewis movie of the same name. Reteaming with Academy Award-winning makeup artist Rick Baker (with whom Murphy had collaborated when he played multiple roles in Coming to America, Murphy was buried under prosthetics to play the obese Sherman Klump. Other family-friendly films, such as Doctor Dolittle and Daddy Day Care, followed. Murphy also began doing voice work in a number of animated films, including Disney's Mulan in 1999 and, more notably, providing the voice of Donkey in the hugely popular Shrek series.

Though his non-animated movies usually underperformed throughout the 2000s, Murphy got back in the good graces of the critics with his turn in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls, for which Murphy was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe, Unfortunately, he followed up that success with the crass, insipid Norbit, and quickly went back to disappointing box office returns.

The 2011 action comedy Tower Heist was billed as yet another Eddie Murphy comeback; however, the film, while not a bomb by any means, also underperformed at the box office.

Select Eddie Murphy Filmography:

  • 48 Hrs. (1982)
  • Trading Places (1983)
  • Delirious (1983)
  • Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  • The Golden Child (1986)
  • Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
  • Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)
  • Coming to America (1988)
  • Harlem Nights (1989)
  • Boomerang (1992)
  • The Nutty Professor (1996)
  • Doctor Dolittle (1998)
  • Bowfinger (1999)
  • Shrek (2001)
  • Daddy Day Care (2003)
  • Dreamgirls (2006)
  • Tower Heist (2011)

Additional Eddie Murphy Facts:

  • Comedy Central ranked Eddie Murphy number 10 on their countdown of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time.
  • Murphy was nominated for Golden Globe awards for his performances in 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop and The Nutty Professor. He won the 2007 Golden Globe for his performance in Dreamgirls.
  • Murphy is also a musician and recording artist, and in 1985 released the album How Could It Be, which featured the hit single "Party All the Time." His second album, Love's Alright, was released in 1993, featuring the hit "Whatzupwitu," a duet between Murphy and Michael Jackson.
  • He was hand-picked by his Tower Heist director Brett Ratner to host the 2012 Academy Awards, but dropped out after Ratner stepped down as producer of the awards show following some controversial remarks characterized as offensive by the gay community.
  • Murphy was one of the last actors to ever sign an exclusive contract with a movie studio: Paramount released all of his films in the 1980s.
  • He almost starred in both Ghostbusters (in the role that eventually went to Ernie Hudson, but which was originally written for Murphy) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Murphy, a huge Star Trek fan, wanted to appear in one of the films in the franchise, but a script that satisfied both him and the film's creative team could never come together.
  • In 1997, Murphy was caught up in a scandal after a traffic stop revealed he was driving with a transvestite in the car.
  • In 1999, he co-created, produced and provide a voice on The P.J.s, an animated series that aired first on FOX and then the WB. It lasted three seasons before going off the air in 2001.
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