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February 13, 2013
Khalid's 28 Days of Blackness: Day 13: Eddie Murphy
Box-office takes from Murphy's films make him the second-highest grossing actor in the United States. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984 and has worked as a stand-up comedian. He was ranked No. 10 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
Murphy grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick. His mother, Lillian, was a telephone operator, and his father, Charles Edward Murphy, was a transit police officer and an amateur actor and comedian. His father died when he was young. When Murphy's single mom became ill, the eight-year-old Eddie Murphy and his older brother lived in foster care for one year. In interviews, the actor and comedian says that his time in foster care was influential in developing his sense of humour. Later Murphy and his older brother Charlie were raised in Roosevelt, New York by his mother and stepfather Vernon Lynch, a foreman at an ice cream plant. Around the age of 15, Murphy was writing and performing his own routines, which were heavily influenced by Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.
Murphy performed stand-up at the same Bay Area Comedy Club as Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. His early comedy was characterized by frequent swearing and sketches lampooning a diverse group of people (including White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), African Americans, Italian Americans, overweight people, and gay people). This controversial content was akin to that of Richard Pryor, whom Murphy has credited as his inspiration to enter comedy; however, in his autobiography, Pryor Convictions, Pryor wrote that he found Murphy's comedy at times excessively insensitive. Murphy later apologized for jokes about gay people and HIV. Eddie also released two stand-up specials. Delirious was filmed in 1983 in Climax, Michigan. Due to the popularity of this, he then released Raw in 1987 which was filmed in the Felt Forum section of Madison Square Garden in New York.
1980s acting career
Murphy in 1988
Murphy first earned attention as a regular actor at Saturday Night Live (SNL), and was credited with helping revitalize the series during the early 1980s. Some of his notable characters included a grown version of the Little Rascals character Buckwheat, impoverished but street-wise children's show host Mr. Robinson (a spoof of Fred Rogers, who found it amusing), and Gumby, a harshly cynical version of the animated character; Murphy's take on the latter character spawned one of SNL's many catchphrases, "I'm Gumby, dammit!" Although Buckwheat was his most popular character, Murphy asked that he be retired because the actor grew tired of people asking him to "Do Buckwheat! Do Buckwheat!"; the character was assassinated on camera in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
In 1982, Murphy made his big screen debut in the film 48 Hrs. with Nick Nolte.48 Hrs. proved to be a hit when it was released in the Christmas season of 1982. Nolte was scheduled to host the December 11, 1982, Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live, but became too ill to host, so Murphy took over. He became the only cast member to host while still a regular. Murphy opened the show with the phrase, "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!" The following year, Murphy starred in Trading Places with fellow SNL alumnus Dan Aykroyd. The movie marked the first of Murphy's collaborations with director John Landis (who also directed Murphy in Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop III) and proved to be an even greater box office success than 48 Hrs. In 1984, Murphy starred in the successful action comedy film Beverly Hills Cop. The film was Murphy's first full-fledged starring vehicle, originally intended to star Sylvester Stallone (who later tweaked the script as his own starring vehicleCobra in 1986).Beverly Hills Cop grossed over $230 million at the box office and is 41st in the list of all-time total U.S. box office grosses (4th-highest amongst "R" rated films), after adjusting for inflation, as of August 2012[update].
In 1984, Murphy appeared in Best Defense, co-starring Dudley Moore. Murphy, who was credited as a "Strategic Guest Star", was added to the film after an original version was completed but tested poorly with audiences. Best Defense was a major financial and critical disappointment. When he hosted SNL, Murphy joined the chorus of those bashing Best Defense, calling it "the worst movie in the history of everything". Murphy's Trading Places co-star Dan Aykroyd had originally written the character of Winston Zeddemore in Ghostbusters specifically for Murphy, but he was unable to commit at the time due to the Beverly Hills Cop shooting schedule. The part ultimately went to Ernie Hudson. Murphy was also offered a part in 1986's Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a role that, after being heavily re-written from comic relief to love interest, ultimately went to future 7th Heaven star Catherine Hicks. By this point Murphy's near-exclusive contract with Paramount Pictures rivaled Star Trek as Paramount's most lucrative franchise.
In 1986, Murphy starred in the supernatural comedy, The Golden Child.The Golden Child was originally intended to be a serious adventure picture starring Mel Gibson. After Gibson turned the role down, the project was offered to Murphy as it was subsequently rewritten as a partial comedy. Although The Golden Child (featuring Murphy's "I want the knife!" routine) performed well at the box office, the movie was not as critically acclaimed as 48 Hrs., Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. The Golden Child was considered a change of pace for Murphy because of the supernatural setting as opposed to the more "street smart" settings of Murphy's previous efforts. A year later, Murphy reprised his role of Axel Foley in the Tony Scott-directed Beverly Hills Cop II. It was a box office success, grossing over $150 million. Producers reportedly wanted to turn the Beverly Hills Cop franchise into a weekly television series. Murphy declined the television offer, but was willing to do a film sequel instead.
Murphy is also a singer and musician, having frequently provided background vocals to songs released by The Bus Boys, which their song "The Boys Are Back in Town" was featured in 48 Hrs. and Murphy's comedy special Eddie Murphy Delirious. As a solo artist, Murphy had two hit singles, "Party All the Time" (which was produced by Rick James) and "Put Your Mouth on Me" in the mid-1980s (although he actually started singing earlier in his career, with the songs "Boogie In Your Butt" and "Enough Is Enough", the latter being a parody of Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer's 1979 song, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)". They both appear on his 1982 self-titled comedy album.) "Party All the Time" was featured on Murphy's 1985 debut album How Could It Be, which included a minor follow-up R&B hit in the title track, a duet with vocalist Crystal Blake. This track was written by Rusty Hamilton and was produced by Stevie Wonder's cousin Aquil Fudge after a brief falling out and bet with Rick James. In 2004, VH-1 and Blender voted "Party All the Time" number seven among the "50 Worst Songs of All-Time." Sharam used a sample of the song for the UK No. 8 hit "PATT (Party All The Time)" in 2006.
From 1989 and through most of the early 1990s, box office results and reviews for Murphy's films were strong, but by 1992 results for both dropped, hitting a low point with the critically panned Beverly Hills Cop III (1994), a movie Murphy would ultimately denounce during an appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, although he did find box office success with Boomerang and Another 48 Hrs.Harlem Nights featured Murphy, who had previously been known only as a performer, as director, producer, star, and co-writer, with his brother, Charlie Murphy, as well as supporting roles for Murphy's comic idols Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor.
Although Murphy has enjoyed commercial success since Saturday Night Live, he has never attended cast reunions or anniversary specials, nor did he participate in the making of the Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live retrospective book by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller (2002). Murphy's box office results began to recover in 1996, starting with The Nutty Professor.
Murphy began a longtime romantic relationship with Nicole Mitchell (born January 5, 1968) after meeting her in 1988 at an NAACP Image Awards show. They lived together for almost two years before getting married at the Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel in New York City on March 18, 1993. Murphy and Mitchell had five children together: Bria L. Murphy (born November 18, 1989), Myles Mitchell (born November 7, 1992), Shayne Audra (born October 10, 1994), Zola Ivy (born December 24, 1999) and Bella Zahra (born January 29, 2002). In August 2005, Mitchell filed for divorce, citing "irreconcilable differences". The divorce was finalized on April 17, 2006.
He also has a child by Tamara Hood: son Christian Murphy (born on November 29, 1990), and another child by Paulette McNeely: son Eric Murphy (born on July 10, 1989).
Following his divorce from Mitchell, in 2006, Murphy began dating former Spice GirlMelanie Brown, who became pregnant and stated that the child was Murphy's. When questioned about the pregnancy in December 2006, by RTL Boulevard, Murphy told Dutch reporter Matthijs Kleyn, "I don't know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn't jump to conclusions, sir". Brown gave birth to a baby girl, Angel Iris Murphy Brown, on Murphy's 46th birthday, April 3, 2007. On June 22, 2007, representatives for Brown announced in People that a DNA test had confirmed that Murphy was the father. Brown has stated in an interview that Murphy has not sought a relationship with Angel.
Murphy exchanged marriage vows with film producer Tracey Edmonds, former wife of Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, on January 1, 2008, in a private ceremony on an island off Bora Bora. On January 16, 2008, the couple released a statement saying, "After much consideration and discussion, we have jointly decided that we will forego having a legal ceremony as it is not necessary to define our relationship further," and called the Bora Bora wedding a "symbolic union". The two had planned on having a legal ceremony upon their return to the U.S. but did not, and their wedding was never official.
According to Murphy's childhood friend Harris Haith in his book, Growing Up Laughing With Eddie, long before Murphy did any writing for Coming to America, Art Buchwald had approached Paramount Pictures with the idea for a similar film. His material was rejected, but the information was retained by Paramount. They liked Buchwald's idea but did not see fit to pay him and saved it for use later down the road. Some years later, Paramount presented the idea of Coming to America to Eddie and gave him the contract. Murphy wrote a screenplay that came to light exactly as it aired on the silver screen. In 1988, Buchwald sued Murphy and Paramount Pictures, but Murphy was not found liable because Paramount had received the material.
Murphy has donated money to the AIDS Foundation, and cancer, education, creative arts, family/parent support, health and homeless charities. He has donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, various cancer charities and $100,000 to the Screen Actors' Guild's strike relief fund.