Eddie Murphy

Published August 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Occupation: Actor, Comedian, Producer 

Date of Birth: April 3, 1961 

Place of Birth: Brooklyn, NY, USA 

Sign: Sun in Aries, Moon in Scorpio 

Relations: Mother: Lillian Murphy Lynch (telephone operator; father: police officer (deceased); stepfather: Vernon Lynch (factory foreman); brother: Charles (aka Charlie) Murphy (actor, screenwriter); stepbrother: Vernon Lynch Jr.; wife: Nicole Mitchell (model); kids: Bria, Miles Mitchell, Shayne Audra, and Zola Ivy (with Mitchell); Christian (with Tamara Moore) 

Education: Attended Nassau Community College 


 

NEARLY TWO DECADES ago, Eddie Murphy first appeared on Saturday Night Live. In a world, and field, that is notoriously void of roles for African-Americans, Murphy's longevity is testament to both his ability and his resilience.  

Even as a child growing up in 1960s Brooklyn, Murphy entertained everyone around him with "funny voices" he had heard on television. By the time he was a teen, he was adept at "ranking," an insulting contest between his friends – yes, the original "Your momma's so ugly…" An arrogant young man, Murphy wore ascots and carried himself with the air of someone who knows he's going places.  

At 18, Murphy began competing in comedy talent contests. After enduring agonizing competition (not to mention abject racism) in a particularly grueling Long Island series of bar talent shows, Murphy managed to land a regular gig at one small bar. Once Murphy realized how few black comics were actually working in the late '70s, the two words “Richard Pryor” became very important to him and he set about studying Pryor's work, determined to be a success despite the odds.  

While honing his skills at night, Murphy worked as a shoe salesman during the day, adding classes at Nassau Community College to sharpen his observations. At the time, there were no such thing as "stand-up comedy classes." In 1980, he landed a writing job on Saturday Night Live – a twist of fate he says was simply because they needed a token black person, which the sketch show hadn't had since founding member Garrett Morris. Thanks to his talent, though, he quickly rose through the ranks to become a regular player, charming audiences with his portrayals of Gumby, Mr. Robinson and Tyrone Green – of "C-I-L-L my landlord" fame.  

Although these days, it's commonplace for SNL players to make the transition to the big screen, back then, it was a risky proposition. Murphy made the move with aplomb, debuting opposite Nick Nolte in 1982's 48 Hours, then following it up with the now-classic Trading Places, which put him opposite one of SNL's founding members, Dan Aykroyd.  

Political opposition to Murphy grew as quickly as his fame, and for every person who saw his movies – and there were millions – two more were boycotting him, whether for his misogynist comments, his homophobia or any number of other offenses Murphy consistently spewed out. The boycott didn't seem to have much impact, though: Murphy landed a $15 million deal with Paramount, a coveted Barbara Walters prime-time interview slot, and comedy albums galore. In 1984, Murphy made a huge breakthrough, creating the franchise role of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. He was a bona-fide movie star.  

Along with all the money and fame, Murphy was given enormous responsibility: many people expected him to single handedly eliminate racism in Hollywood. When he didn't come through with the impossible, he was labeled "establishment" and a "sell-out." When his core fans deserted him, the decline of Eddie Murphy began.  

For ten years, Murphy struggled, releasing numerous films but hardly capturing the public's eye as he had earlier. By 1994, he was considered a "has-been," compared frequently to Burt Reynolds as a performer who had stuck with one "type" too long. Both Reynolds and Murphy – separately – rebounded to prove their critics wrong.  

Then came 1996 and The Nutty Professor. Eddie Murphy, all grown up, was back. Or was he? His next few films were miserable, but with 1998's Doctor Dolittle, it seemed that maybe the potential for a career resurrection was there. In early 1999, he scored big-time with Martin Lawrence in the buddy picture Life, following that up with an inspired dual role in Steve Martin's Bowfinger. Combined with his "day job" doing a voiceover role on the television series The PJs, Murphy had his finger in all the pies once again.  


 

Movies: 


 

2000 The Nutty Professor II  

2000 Pluto Nash  

2000 Shrek  

1999 Bowfinger  

1999 Life  

1999 Toddlers  

1998 Holy Man  

1998 Doctor Dolittle  

1998 Mulan  

1997 Metro  

1996 The Nutty Professor  

1995 Vampire in Brooklyn  

1994 Beverly Hills Cop III  

1992 Boomerang  

1992 The Distinguished Gentleman  

1990 Another 48 Hrs.  

1989 Harlem Nights  

1988 Coming to America  

1987 Beverly Hills Cop II  

1987 Eddie Murphy Raw  

1986 The Golden Child  

1985 The Joe Piscopo Video  

1984 Best Defense  

1984 Beverly Hills Cop  

1983 Trading Places  

1983 Eddie Murphy Delirious  

1982 48 Hrs.  


 

TV: 


 

1999 The PJs  

1989 What's Alan Watching Now?  

1981-84 Saturday Night Live  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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