Eddie Murphy (born April 3, 1961) is an American actor, film director,
producer, comedian and singer. He is the highest grossing actor in motion
picture history. 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 #10 on Comedy
Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
He has received Golden Globe Award nominations for best actor in a comedy or musical for his performances in Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beverly Hills Cop III, Trading Places, and The Nutty Professor. In 2007, he won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of soul singer James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls, and received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the same role.
Murphy's work as a voice actor includes Thurgood Stubbs in The PJs, Donkey in the Shrek series and the dragon Mushu in Disney's Mulan. In some of his films, he plays multiple roles in addition to his main character, intended as a tribute to one of his idols Peter Sellers, who played multiple roles in Dr. Strangelove and elsewhere. Eddie has played multiple roles in Coming to America, Wes Craven's Vampire In Brooklyn, the Nutty Professor films, where he played himself in two incarnations, plus his father, brother, mother and grandmother, Bowfinger and 2007's Norbit. Another trademark of Eddie is his deep, infectious, and considerably goofy laugh. His other trademark is a recurring line he says in movies "How you doin'?", which he states is his catchphrase in real life.
Eddie was born in Brooklyn, New York. His mother, Lilian, was a telephone operator, and his father, Charles Edward Murphy, was a transit police officer and an amateur actor and comedian. Eddie and his 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, Eddie was writing and performing his own routines, which were heavily influenced by Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.
Eddie 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 Caucasian Americans, African Americans, Italian Americans, overweight people, and gays). This racy content was akin to that of Richard Pryor, whom Eddie 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. Eddie later apologized for insensitive jokes about gays and HIV. The stand-up shows Raw and Delirious have been recorded and released on DVD/VHS.
In 1982, Eddie 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 Eddie took over. He became the only cast member to host while still a regular. Eddie opened the show with the phrase, "Live from New York, It's the Eddie Murphy Show!"
The following year, Eddie 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 Eddie in Coming to America and Beverly Hills Cop III) and proved to be an even greater box office success than 48 Hrs. In 1984, Eddie starred in the successful action film Beverly Hills Cop. The film was Murphy's first full-fledged starring vehicle, originally intended to star Sylvester Stallone. Beverly Hills Cop grossed over $200 million at the box office and is 39th in the list of all-time total U.S. box office grosses (third-highest amongst "R" rated films), after adjusting for inflation, as of March 2009.
Also in 1984, Eddie 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, Eddie joined the chorus of those bashing Best Defense, calling it "the worst movie in the history of everything". Eddie has also been rumored to be initially a part of hits such as Ghostbusters (featuring his Trading Places co-star Dan Aykroyd and fellow SNL alumnus Bill Murray). The part that was originally written with Eddie in mind ultimately went to Ernie Hudson. Eddie 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.
Also in 1986, Eddie 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 Eddie 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 Eddie because of the supernatural setting as opposed to the more "street smart" settings of Murphy's previous efforts. A year later, Eddie reprised his role of Axel Foley in the Tony Scott-directed Beverly Hills Cop II. Although the film was panned by critics, it was still a box office success, grossing over $150 million. Producers reportedly wanted to turn the Beverly Hills Cop franchise into a weekly television series. Eddie declined the television offer, but was willing to do a film sequel instead.
Eddie was one of the last movie actors to sign an exclusive contract with a studio. In this case, it was Paramount Pictures, which released all of his early films.
Eddie is also a singer and musician, having frequently provided background vocals to songs released by the The Bus Boys. As a solo artist, Eddie 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 also 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 #8 hit "PATT (Party All The Time)" in 2006.
Eddie recorded the album Love's Alright in the early 1990s. He performed in a music video of the single "Whatzupwitu", featuring Michael Jackson. In 1999, the "Whatzupwitu" video, which featured Eddie and Jackson in a technicolor-like dream world, was voted as number three among the 25 worst music videos in the MTV era. He also recorded a duet with Shabba Ranks called "I Was a King", which was similarly panned. In 1992, Eddie also appeared in Michael Jackson's "Remember the Time" video alongside Magic Johnson and Iman.
Although uncredited, Eddie provided vocal work on SNL castmate Joe Piscopo's comedy single, "The Honeymooners Rap." Piscopo impersonated Jackie Gleason on the single, while Eddie provided an imitation of Art Carney.
In Coming to America, Eddie imitated Jackie Wilson when he sang "To Be Loved," but because the character he was playing had a thick accent, he had to sing it in character. In later years, Eddie performed several songs in the Shrek film franchise. In the first film, he performed a version of "I'm a Believer" in the film's final scene; in Shrek 2 he performed Ricky Martin's hit "Livin' La Vida Loca" along with co-star Antonio Banderas.
Eddie Murphy's all time favorite singer is Elvis Presley. He is also a huge fan of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Kylie Minogue.
However, Buchwald and his partner Alain Bernheim did win the suit against Paramount Pictures, were awarded damages, and then accepted a settlement from Paramount. The case was the subject of a 1992 book, Fatal Subtraction: The Inside Story of Buchwald v. Paramount by Pierce O'Donnell and Dennis McDougal.
From 1989 until the mid-1990s and again in the mid '00s, box office results for Murphy's films dropped, hitting a low point with the critically- panned Beverly Hills Cop III (a movie Eddie would ultimately denounce during an appearance on Inside the Actors Studio), although he did find minor box office success with The Distinguished Gentleman, Boomerang, Another 48 Hrs. and Vampire In Brooklyn. His directorial effort, Harlem Nights, is widely seen as a vanity project and the first step in Murphy's career slump. Harlem Nights featured Eddie (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.
During this period Eddie was also criticized by filmmaker Spike Lee for not using his show business stature to help black actors break into film, despite Murphy's films (especially those he produces) often being populated with predominately black casts (Coming To America, Harlem Nights, Boomerang, Vampire In Brooklyn, Life). Many black actors who would later gain wider recognition make early appearances in Eddie films such as Damon Wayans in Beverly Hills Cop, Halle Berry and Martin Lawrence in Boomerang, Samuel L. Jackson and Cuba Gooding Jr in Coming to America and Raw, Dave Chappelle in The Nutty Professor and Chris Rock in Beverly Hills Cop II and Boomerang.
Although Eddie has enjoyed commercial success since Saturday Night Live, he has never attended cast reunions, 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. He followed with a series of very successful family-friendly movies like Mulan, Dr. Dolittle and its sequel, the Shrek series, Daddy Day Care, and The Haunted Mansion, along with Nutty Professor II. However, most of his movies meant for more adult audiences performed moderately; Metro, I Spy, and Showtime all ended to gross less than $40 million domestically, Holy Man performed badly, grossing less than $13 million, and The Adventures of Pluto Nash is on record as one of the biggest theatrical money-losers of all time, grossing just $7 million worldwide on a reported $110 million budget. A notable exception to this run of poorly received adult -themed films was the Frank Oz comedy Bowfinger, also starring Steve Martin. The film garnered generally positive critical reviews, and grossed a respectable $66 million at the box office.
In 2006, he starred in the motion picture version of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls as soul singer James "Thunder" Early. Eddie won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, as well as a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award in that category. Several reviews for the film highlighted Murphy's performance while he received some pre-release Academy Awards buzz. Eddie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor on January 23, 2007, but lost to Alan Arkin for his performance in Little Miss Sunshine. Dreamgirls was the first film distributed by Paramount Pictures to star Eddie (who once was on an exclusive contract with the studio) since Vampire in Brooklyn in 1995. As a result of Viacom's acquisition of Dreamworks SKG, Paramount distributed his other 2007 releases: Norbit and Shrek the Third. He is currently filming Imagine That for Paramount Pictures.
Eddie is expected to begin work on Beverly Hills Cop IV sometime in the near future, and it is expected that producer Jerry Bruckheimer will not participate in the fourth installment of the series. Eddie recently told The Sun Online that "the new script is looking good". The New York Daily News is reporting that The Trump Heist, Brett Ratner's all-black heist movie, will star Eddie as the leader of a crew of con artists who land jobs at Donald Trump's Trump Tower so they can steal from its residents. Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and Chris Tucker are reportedly in consideration to join the cast. Brian Grazer is producing the picture for his Imagine Entertainment shingle.
In 2007, Eddie was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
As reported, Eddie will star in the new version of The Incredible Shrinking Man which will be released in the future.
This Eddie Murphy Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub