Eddie Murphy
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Real Name: Edward Regan Murphy
Birthday: April 3, 1961
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, NY
Education: Roosevelt Jr.-Sr. High School

 

Biography and Filmography:

As one of the most able and significant talents to materialize from the 1980’s, comedian and actor Eddie Murphy laid the groundwork for an entire generation of young African American comics to follow. Just as he was motivated by the comedy skills of the legendary Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx in the 1970’s, he influenced an entire new group of comedians who came into focus during the 1980’s, among them: Martin Lawrence, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, and Dave Chappelle. Yet, it was as a true celebrity and movie star that the actor made his greatest impact. 

He can be proud of a collective career box office cash draw of over $8 billion dollars, making him one of the most successful comedy stars of all time. With a flair for re-inventing himself, his career also managed to revive itself several times. In 2006, the 46 year old comedian achieved his most drastic shift from comedy in the smash hit movie variation of the musical, “Dreamgirls”.

Born Edward Regan Murphy on April 3, 1961 in Brooklyn, New York, the comedian was the second born child of New York City police officer, Charles, and his wife, Lillian. Even though his parents divorced in 1964, he and his older brother, Charles, Jr., stayed in contact with their father until his passing four years later. In 1970, Lillian remarried and relocated the family to Roosevelt, Long Island, where her new husband, Vernon Lynch, worked as a manager at the Breyer’s ice cream factory. 

A talented child growing up, young Eddie spent numerous hours in front of the television set, watching old movies and cartoons. Not surprisingly, the young man became a exceptional mimic. Showing an early skill for entertaining, he liked putting on shows for his family and friends. A large preponderance of his collection in those days consisted of celebrity impersonations, silly songs raps, and simulated religious sermons.

He would get his first taste of celebrity while attending Roosevelt Junior High School. An very smart, but academically uninterested learner, he spent more time telling jokes than studying. Adored by his friend and teachers equally, his charisma and quick cleverness made a long-lasting impact and won him the name “Most Popular Student.” At the age of 16, he started writing and performing his own comedy skits for school variety shows, youth centers, and nearby comedy clubs. 

Turning professional at 18, he began to make a name for himself by performing at comedy clubs and beer bars in and around New York City. Though he readily admits to stealing a large majority of his early jokes from Richard Pryor, by the late 1970's, he had started to develop his own routines. A fluke job at New York’s famous Comic Strip Live comedy club jump started his career into high gear. From there, it was a short trip to the big leagues, just four years and he would be at the pinnacle of his profession.

The comedian's stand-up routine continued filling clubs and gained him the esteem of his peers. But it was television where Murphy became a household name. In the summer of 1980, his life was forever altered when he was hired to join the cast of “Saturday Night Live” (1975- ). While many young comedians would have viewed this as a golden opportunity, the timing could not have been worse. By the time he joined the ensemble cast, the six year old “SNL” was already in the first of its numerous declines. Once thought of as progressive and cutting-edge “SNL” had grown rather stale. There was a mass exodus of talent from the show at the end of the fifth season. 

Despite the mass mutiny, NBC renewed “SNL” for one more season.  Quickly re-worked and glued back together, the show returned in the fall of 1980 with a new executive producer, a new ensemble comedy cast, a new writing staff, and even a new band and band leader.  

Under Ebersol’s management, “SNL” got back some of its sparkle. While not as sassy as it had been in its high point, the show was at least funny and allowed Murphy to flower into the star he was intended to become. Between 1981 and 1985, the cast also welcomed Jim Belushi, Brad Hall, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Mary Gross. But for all purposes, the show had largely become the "Eddie Murphy Show". Natural, bold, and regularly dazzling, he was a hit with sketches that showed off his impersonation talents. Among his most well known skits were “Mister Robinson's Neighborhood”, “James Brown Celebrity Hot Tub,” and the funny “Ebony & Ivory” sketch. His other brilliant characters included the pimp, Velvet Jones, and the angry children's television show icon, Gumby. 

But His most well-known character had to be the adored ” Buckwheat”, a parody of the fictional black character from the “Our Gang” series. After several appearances, however, he decided to retire the character. The star would leave the show halfway through the 1983-1984 season, but through his short run, managed to secure his spot as one of the most talented comics to play the sound stage of Studio 8-H.

Clearly, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came looking for the comedian. In 1982, he transitioned to feature celebrity status as a smart mouth prisoner teamed with a police officer (Nick Nolte) in Walter Hill's "48 Hrs." The following year, he partnered with friend Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis in director John Landis’s comedy drama, “Trading Places” (1983). The film was a smash hit when released that summer . Developed on a budget of only $27 million, it went on to make over $91 million in the United States alone. “Trading Places” legitimately secured his status as a major movie star and sexy celebrity. The next year, he hit the jackpot with the release of his first starring role in “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984). Conceived as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, the script went through a major re-write once he joined the project. Another colossal smash hit, the $16 million comedy grossed a whopping $244 million in the United States.

The actor was next hired in his first live comedy special “Eddie Murphy, Delirious." Taped before a live studio audience in Washington, D.C., “Delirious” became a run away success and ushered his arrival as the new king of comedy. His routine was not without its critics. Some thought the young comic’s relentless usage of sexual suggestive situations and profanity was highly distasteful. He was also chided for being sexist and homophobic, speaking of gays as “faggots” and telling jokes about AIDS. This early flood of political incorrectness, added to his unapologetic viewpoint afterwards, finally ended in a boycott from the gay and lesbian community. 

Because of his unparalleled box office success, he received a money-spinning multiple movie deal with Paramount Pictures. His first project, "The Golden Child" (1986) did well at the box office, but was missing some shine. He also hit it big with his next project, the live concert special "Eddie Murphy Raw" (1987), and showed his charm as a wife seeking African prince in "Coming to America" (1988). At this stage some were beginning to think that his ego was starting to surpass his comedic senses. He only proved these critics right with his next project – “Harlem Nights” (1989). Making a dreadful introduction as a screenwriter and director, “Harlem Nights” was the beginning of the end for chapter one of his career. 

He next tested the waters with a singing career. This bad idea attempt as a recording star led to one hit single,  the addicting but tacky "Party All the Time", but his shortcomings as a musician and songwriter shut down any dreams for a lasting career. Wanting to expand, he turned to television and developed a number of sitcom pilots with his production company, EM Productions. His only success was a comedy series he created and produced as an outlet for Redd Foxx and Della Reese called "The Royal Family" (1991-92). A poor ratings success, the sitcom was finally cancelled halfway through the first season when Foxx died of a sudden heart attack.

The celebrities movie career started another down hill trend during the 1990’s, as he starred in a series of likely but needless sequels, like “Another 48 Hrs” (1990) and “Beverly Hills Cop III” (1994). Anxious to stay on top, he decided to re-invent his onscreen personality for the first time, moving from comedian to more polished leading man roles. The results showed and assortment results with some moderate hits, most surprisingly the romantic comedy "Boomerang" with Halle Berry (1992) and the Capitol Hill mockery, "The Distinguished Gentleman" (1992); but even more amazing - big failures, including "A Vampire in Brooklyn " (1995) with Angela Basset, a bad terror comedy directed by Wes Craven.

Happily, he returned to what made him famous -  funny comedy - beginning with the 1996 variation of "The Nutty Professor" (1963). Making skillful use of his various talents, director Steve Oederkerk had him playing multiple characters as he did in “Coming to America.” The results were brilliantly refreshing. Taking a less hyperactive approach than Jerry Lewis did, he juggled numerous roles, personalities, prosthetics, and even genders, with wonderful self-confidence. Of his many roles, the most striking was that of title character, Professor Sherman Klump. 

Even braver was his role as Klump’s alter ego, Buddy Love, a desperate, self-centered, and horrible egomaniac. “The Nutty Professor” earned $137 million at the box office and jump started his career once again.

He won critical approval for his two part role as a fearful action adventure film star and his dumb brother in the well written Steve Martin comedy "Bowfinger” (1999). He followed up by teaming with "Boomerang" co-star Martin Lawrence in the jailhouse comedy, "Life” (1999), but that film faded with little success. He continued his box office failures with roles in several bad projects including the lackluster science fiction comedy, "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002), a film that was so bad, it became the butt of jokes about his career with late night comedians and writers. Hollywood next cast the actor in two comedies released in 2002. “I Spy” with Owen Wilson, and “Showtime” opposite Robert DeNiro. Both projects were bad and did poorly at the box office and did not set well with his fans. 

He started to gain traction with children and younger viewers, rebounding as as a voice actor in Disney movies. Murphy started off this new phase in his career with a variation of the talking with the animals adventure, "Dr. Dolittle” (1998). He then followed up with a great role as a wise guy dragon in Disney's "Mulan" (1998). 

Fond of voice work, he played another animated character - this time an short-tempered donkey - in the enormously popular animated story, "Shrek" (2001) along side Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz. His funny role as simply "Donkey" proved so admired by young viewers that he was invited back for its two sequels, “Shrek 2” (2004) and “Shrek the Third” (2007). His next project, "Daddy Day Care" (2003), was not well liked by critics and was seen as a knock-off of “Mr. Mom”, but ended up a success with a $30 million opening weekend. 

His rejuvenated career as America’s beloved family and children friendly movie star was almost ruined in 1997. The celebrity became mixed up in a peculiar and spicy sex scandal that became the talk of late night television, and tabloids around the world. During the production of “Doctor Dolittle,” Murphy was stopped by West Hollywood police around 5 a.m. for suspicion of soliciting a transsexual male prostitute. He was never charged with a sex crime but gossip writers had a feeding frenzy when the story broke. He originally kept silent, but his silence only made things worse. Embarrassed and angry by what he asserted were media fabrications of the truth, a disgraced Murphy finally broke his silence to defend himself on national television, saying the only thing he was guilty of was trying to be a good Samaritan; that all he did was offer a young female, or so he thought, a ride home. 

Putting his personal problems aside, his career continued along as planned. After finishing production on his latest project "The Haunted Mansion", in 2003, he announced he was taking a vacation from acting to spend more time with his family. By 2005, his 12 year marriage to former model Nicole Mitchell had come to an end. The two divorced in early 2006, but agreed to joint custody of their five young children. 

He wasted no time finding new love interests. Not long after his divorce from Mitchell, he was associated in the tabloids to a throng of stunning women. In late 2006, another of his lovers, singer Melanie Brown announced that she was pregnant with Murphy’s child. In early December 2006, just weeks after their relationship went public, he broke up with Brown, who was five months pregnant. The fight boiled over in January of 2007, when he publicly questioned the baby’s paternity.

Eddie’s career continued in spite of his personal problems and was hired for what would turn out to possibly be his crowning achievement, the big screen adaptation of the 1981 Tony award winning musical, "Dreamgirls" (2006). In his biggest role to date, he made an extraordinary dramatic presentation as R&B singer James "Thunder" Early, joining Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and newcomer Jennifer Hudson. Based on the story of the Motown super singing group, the Supremes, the film adaptation of “Dreamgirls” was a smash hit. 

He was honored for his performance in “Dreamgirls” with a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor. The role also won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. 

Never one to sit around with idle time on his hands, the once again hot celebrity maintained a busy schedule in 2007, beginning with the movie “Norbit,” a comedy in which he played multiple roles, including that of an overweight black woman. Next was "Shrek The Third" (2007) and the television holiday special "Shrek The Halls" (2007) with Antonio Banderas. He also appeared in 29 episodes of the top rated animated television series "The PJs" (1999-2001) before returning to the movies with "Meet Dave" (2008) about a crew of miniature aliens who operate a spaceship that has a human form. While trying to save their planet, the aliens encounter a new problem, as their ship becomes smitten with an Earth woman.

 

Next was the comedy "NowhereLand" (2009) about a financial executive who can't stop his career downturn is invited into his daughter's imaginary world, where solutions to his problems await. Next up is the comedy drama "A Thousand Words" (2010) about a boring guy who learns that he has only 1,000 words left to speak before he will die. He followed that with the expected "Shrek Goes Fourth" (2010) sequel about the further adventures of the giant green ogre, Shrek, living in the land of Far, Far Away.  

Finally, he will appear in the comedy action thriller "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (2010), an update version of the best-selling novel and blockbuster movie, it tells the story of Scott Carey who shrinks to an incredible small size and must face the danger that he runs into.

It kind of makes us wonder where he can go from here?

 

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