Take a look at Eddie Murphy’s life, from humble beginnings to becoming a leading man in Hollywood, and from dating the most high-profile women in the industry to having one of the most unconventional families in show business.
A Less-Than-Idyllic Childhood
Though Eddie Murphy has stated in interviews that he had a “great upbringing,” things weren’t always that great. When he was just a few years old, his parents, Lillian Murphy and Charles Edward Murphy, divorced.
When he turned eight, the young star faced the ultimate tragedy — his father lost his life in a crime. Though his mother eventually remarried, there was a time that Eddie and his older brother Charlie lived in foster care.
Born to Be Funny
Like many stars, young Eddie Murphy began showing signs that he was destined to become a comedian before he could even spell the word! Saying that he was always funny, Eddie told Parade magazine that he used to make people on the bus laugh with his different imitations or voices of the different passengers.
He even recalls that his early comedy routines were so amusing that when he got off the bus, the whole bus clapped. It was obvious to anyone around him that Eddie was a natural-born performer and had a special knack for comedy.
Learning From the Legends
Back before streaming videos of comedians was a thing, Eddie got his comedic inspiration from listening to the late Richard Pryor’s comedy albums. The albums, filled with outrageous-yet-hilarious material, made Eddie consider a career in comedy. Unfortunately, his mother and stepfather weren’t receptive.
Eddie claimed that their hesitation was because “back then it was kind of like if you wanted to be a comedian, that was like wanting to be a magician or a juggler!” Despite their doubts, Eddie was determined to follow his dreams.
Teen in the Comedy Scene
While most teenagers were working at the local mall or saving up for their first car, Eddie Murphy was already performing standup comedy routines at bars and local comedy clubs despite not being old enough for a driver’s license!
At just 15 years old, he was on stage performing his impressions of famous celebrities or public figures at the time, including Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Carter. Though most of his routines were admittingly juvenile (he was just a teen), audiences were clearly interested in him.
The Music Man
Though he is known largely for his comedic talent, Eddie has also always been interested in making music. It turns out that when he was just 15 years old, he and his high-school friend, Mitchell Keiser, formed a band called EMMK (the Eddie Murphy Mitchell Keiser band). What started as the boys simply impersonating the Beatles soon turned into them playing real music.
Decades later, Eddie shared that he often uses singing in his standup routines and parodies because he enjoys combining his impressions with music.
Showtime at School
Years before he was entertaining viewers across the country on the cult comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” Eddie Murphy was trying to make his schoolmates crack a smile. While still in high school, he performed shows featuring impressions of fellow students and teachers, skipping periods and gym classes.
Soon, word spread about his impromptu standup routines, and students began sitting in the hallways to hear his material. It wasn’t long before he knew he was destined for show business.
Despite being just a teen, Eddie Murphy’s standup career was heating up, especially after a performance at the local Roosevelt Youth Center, where he impersonated singer Al Green. The performance was a hit and soon Eddie was being asked to perform in other clubs further away from his hometown.
Eddie began skipping school to make it to his comedy gigs, and things went smoothly until his mom finally realized what her son was up to. Though Eddie had to attend summer school to make up for the lost days, the town clown was on his way to stardom!
Too Cool for School
With his sights set on comedic stardom, Eddie decided to enroll in Nassau Community College as a theater major. But just a semester in, the young comedian’s hopes were dashed when he wasn’t allowed to audition for the starring role in the college’s production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Eddie detested the fact that he had been asked to play the smaller part of an orderly. Little did his classmates know that he would later return to the school, this time a famous celebrity!
Comedy Club Regular
Determined more than ever to make his mark on the comedy scene, Eddie Murphy decided that one thing he would need to become a star was an agent. The young comedian simply picked up a copy of the Yellow Pages and flipped to the page listed “talent agents.”
Soon Eddie was being booked for gigs in comedy clubs across New York City and even outside of the city, in places like Washington, D.C., and Fort Lauderdale! It was at his Fort Lauderdale-based performance when he received word about a special audition that would change his life.
The Big Audition
After learning that SNL producer, Jean Doumanian, was looking for another player to round out the cast of the popular comedy sketch show, Eddie immediately headed back to New York to audition. Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned. Eddie revealed that his first audition involved a man sitting alone in a room, saying “Make me laugh.”
Eddie, who had several years of performing standup under his belt, assumed he would be able to have him rolling on the floor in laughter within minutes. Little did he know how wrong he was.
Though Eddie had been performing standup for years, being asked to make someone laugh as part of his audition for the sketch comedy show “Saturday Night Live” was suddenly terrifying. Things became even worse when the person in front of him didn’t laugh at anything.
Luckily, despite the man’s stoic nature, Eddie was called back, this time to make the first man and another person laugh. Soon Eddie was invited to take part in a big audition featuring about ten other men, and his performance was so well-liked that he was soon part of the show’s cast.
Young Eddie Murphy was selected to become a part of the SNL cast in 1980. Though Eddie was obviously thrilled to be part of the show, things weren’t always peachy backstage. The show was going through some major growing pains, and its future was even threatened when the creator Lorne Michaels left shortly after Eddie joined the cast.
Because Lorne had left the show, along with most of the cast and the writing staff, audiences weren’t thrilled. Ratings had plummeted, and although Eddie was just happy to be on television, even he admitted this period of time was hard.
The Surprising Reason He Was Spared
With viewership taking a nosedive and frequent cast and backstage shakeups, it seemed like Eddie Murphy’s stint on SNL would be over before it even began. Things got even more dramatic when Michael O’Donoghue, the show’s head writer, came in and fired everybody, sparing just Eddie and his co-star, Joe Piscopo.
The reason Eddie was saved? Michael was apparently pleased with one of Eddie’s sketches in which he pretended to eat dog food. Now safe, Eddie soon became one of the show’s biggest stars and has even been credited with saving the show!
An “SNL” Star Is Born
Having survived the brutal firing of most of the show’s cast and staff, Eddie Murphy soon showed audiences what made him such a comedy genius. Eddie became known for his hilarious sketches, such as “Mr.Robinson’s Neighborhood,” and his hilarious original characters Raheem Abdul-Muhammed, Buckwheat, and Velvet Jones.
Audiences also adored his impressions of famous celebrities like James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Eddie was becoming a household name thanks to his unique comedic delivery and energy on stage. Once again, SNL viewership was high, and the show’s future seemed solid — all thanks to Eddie!
Hollywood Comes Knocking
With millions of viewers tuning in to see his hilarious sketches on “Saturday Night Live,” it was only a matter of time before Hollywood execs invited Eddie Murphy to try his luck in Tinseltown. Eddie was soon cast in the 1982 buddy-cop action film “48 Hrs.” opposite Nick Nolte.
Despite rumors that Eddie was almost fired from the film, the film became a massive box-office hit and even earned Eddie a Golden Globe nomination. Not only did he prove he had what it took to be a television star, but he was also perfectly at home on the big screen as well!
From “Delirious” to Cringey?
By 1983, Eddie Murphy seemed to be on top of the world, and he had just released a comedy special called “Delirious.” Like his comedy idols before him, “Delirious” became a huge success, even earning him a Grammy for Best Comedy Album. Unfortunately, not everyone was a fan, as the special contained many offensive jokes.
Decades later, Eddie admitted, “Some of it, I cringe when I watch. I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that!'” Still, the special cemented Eddie as one of the funniest people in show business.
A (Movie) Star Is Born
As a young man, Eddie Murphy admired the work and career of comedian Richard Pryor. Little did he know that in the early ‘80s, he would be cast in a role that was originally written for the comedy icon — the character of Billy Ray Valentine in the 1983 film “Trading Places.”
Not only did the film make millions at the box office, but it also made a film star out of Eddie Murphy. Today, the film is considered one of the best comedic films in recent decades and one of Eddie’s best film performances.
Eddie’s Surprise Connection to Stallone
Most of us have seen the extremely popular police comedy film “Beverly Hills Cop” (as well as the various sequels), but did you know that the role of detective Axel Foley almost went to Sylvester Stallone? Before Eddie Murphy was cast in his now-iconic role, Syl had signed on but under one condition — a total rewrite of the script, making it more about action and less comedic.
Thankfully, execs ended up sticking with the original idea for the film about the fish-out-of-water cop and decided to bring on Eddie Murphy.
Eddie Says Goodbye to SNL
With the success of his films “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” Murphy was now a bonafide film star able to command millions of dollars per movie. It’s no wonder that by 1984, he had outgrown the television comedy show. Telling “Rolling Stone” magazine that he couldn’t wait to leave, he even shared, “I don’t like the show; I don’t think the show is funny. I hate it.”
Eddie reportedly felt that the show was beginning to interfere with his blossoming film career. This would be just the beginning of his drama with the sketch comedy show.
Eddie Murphy, Recording Artist?
While many celebrities today try their hand at cosmetics or fragrance lines, decades ago, celebrities were known to record random (and sometimes surprisingly successful) albums. In 1985, Eddie Murphy surprised all of us by releasing his debut album, “How Could It Be.”
Once considered a joke, the album actually featured acclaimed popular artists like Stevie Wonder and Rick James. It turned out that in addition to having impeccable comedic timing and acting talent, Eddie was actually quite the talented singer!
The Story Behind Eddie’s Hit Song
If there’s one song that makes us say, “keep your day job,” it would be Eddie Murphy’s 1985 single “Party All the Time.” Though it did reach (close) to the top of the music charts, one music critic scathingly wrote that Murphy should stick to imitating Gumby [one of Eddie’s recurring sketches on “SNL”].
While the song is nothing too interesting, the story behind it was. It was apparently made as a $100,000 bet between Eddie and comedic icon Richard Pryor, who didn’t think Eddie had enough singing talent to release music!
The Secret Trekkie
Celebrities are always finding new ways to surprise their fans, like when we found out that Eddie Murphy was almost cast in a Star Trek film! It turns out that Eddie is actually a huge Star Trek fan and was originally considered for a major role in the 1986 sci-fi flick, “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.”
At one point, he even met with legendary “Star Trek” star and the film’s director Leonard Nimoy to discuss his potential role. Unfortunately for Trekkies everywhere, Eddie’s role never ended up materializing, and he ended up working on other projects.
Eddie’s X-Rated Show
Though few people would consider Eddie Murphy’s standup comedy routines as being appropriate for young audiences, his 1987 comedy film “Eddie Murphy Raw” took things to the next level. Initially rated “X,” the iconic comedy special was eventually given an “R-rating.”
The amount of foul language in the raunchy routine was apparently so high that for years it held the record for the highest amount of the “f-word” in a theatrically-released film! While that honor eventually went to the mob film “Goodfellas,” “Raw” will continue to be one of the most successful and highest-grossing concert films.
Eddie’s Courtroom Drama
When you’re a rising film star, it seems like everyone wants to get a piece of your fame suddenly. In 1987, the comedic actor found himself embroiled in a $30 million lawsuit against a man who claimed he helped make Eddie a star.
Irving Broder, his former manager, claimed to have taken an “uncut stone and turned him into a gem.” Eventually, the two settled out-of-court with Eddie (in typical form), making the courtroom laugh and even jokingly asking them to see his latest movie to help pay for the settlement!
The Drama Behind a Cult Favorite
When it comes to picking a favorite Eddie Murphy film, many people would choose the 1988 comedy “Coming to America.” The film, which starred Eddie and other Hollywood heavyweights like James Earl Jones and Arsenio Hall, became one of Eddie’s most famous films. But despite its success, the film was plagued with many issues, including a lawsuit alleging that Eddie had stolen the idea for the film from humorist Art Buchwald.
In addition to legal problems, Eddie and the film’s director, John Landis, also fought behind the scenes, with Eddie saying that their “personalities didn't mesh.”
Eddie’s Comedy Dreams Come True
From the moment he became interested in standup, Eddie Murphy admired the late comedian Richard Pryor. In 1989, his dreams came true when he got the opportunity to act alongside Richard and direct him in the film “Harlem Nights.” The experience wasn’t exactly memorable for Eddie, who said it was not “pleasurable.”
To his surprise, Richard kept mostly to himself and didn’t collaborate as much as Eddie had expected. After the film wrapped, Eddie admitted that he didn’t enjoy directing and wouldn’t want to direct again.
Elvis’s Manager Leaves Eddie “All Shook Up”
It’s no surprise that Eddie Murphy has an appreciation for Elvis Presley. But one encounter almost ended in disaster. In the late 1980s, Eddie found himself seated next to Elvis’s former (and disgraced) manager Tom Parker while they were both visiting Las Vegas.
The interaction between him and the manager largely responsible for his idol’s demise resulted in Eddie wanting to “punch him”. Thankfully, there was no bloodshed, but we’re sure there were a few words exchanged!
Eddie’s Secret Superhero Dreams
There’s no shortage of strange casting decisions in Hollywood, but one of the strangest stories is that Eddie was in talks to star in a Batman film! Director Ivan Reitman wanted to cast Bill Murray as Batman and Eddie Murphy as his trusty sidekick, Robin.
Thankfully, this presumably-disastrous film was never made because not only did the two actors not want to wear the costumes required, but it was Eddie who wanted to star as Batman. While it might be hard to pick the best Batman, these two definitely would be our worst choices!
The First and Last Time Eddie Was Late
Being late to a job is never a good idea, especially if you’re on the set of a movie alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood. His lesson in punctuality would come from none other than the director of the film “Trading Places”, John Landis.
The director pulled Eddie out of a table read between the cast members and chastised him in the hall. While we don’t know exactly what he said, his words were apparently harsh enough for the embarrassed actor to come back and apologize to his co-stars.
His Relationship With Whitney Houston
Though Eddie Murphy has been quite open with many facets of his life, there is one area that the comedian/actor has always stayed mum about — his alleged affair with the late music legend Whitney Houston.
Though Bobby Brown was courting Whitney, she seemed to only have eyes for Eddie despite his “elusive” behavior. There were even rumors that Eddie secretly proposed to her, and the actor allegedly called her before her 1992 wedding to Bobby Brown to warn her of the “mistake” she was making.
Eddie Is Obsessed With Cleanliness
When you’re a celebrity, your unique quirks eventually come to light. Sometimes, in the case of Eddie Murphy, you volunteer those interesting tidbits yourself. Eddie has shared in various interviews about his obsession with cleanliness. Not satisfied with just washing his hands various times a day, he apparently also takes multiple showers daily.
He’s especially wary of shaking the hands of fans because he always assumes “somebody might have dug in his nose” or somewhere more disgusting! We don’t blame him!
Eddie Has a Special Relationship With Arsenio Hall
It’s difficult enough for regular people to maintain a friendship for decades, let alone two celebrities. But somehow, Eddie and Arsenio have been able to stay friends for close to 40 years! The two met while working the comedy circuit in Los Angeles and quickly bonded. They’ve also collaborated various times, most notably in the cult classic “Coming to America ''.
Eddie has said that Arsenio is one of the few people that he can just call and have a talk about anything. From fans of one another to friends, their friendship is practically iconic!
Eddie’s Shocking Marriage
Since the beginning of his career, Eddie Murphy has made it known that he was against marriage or even living with a woman. It is for this reason that fans were shocked when it emerged that in 1993, he exchanged vows with model Nicole Mitchell.
The couple, who shared two children, said I do in an elegant ceremony in New York. One of the most talked-about ceremonies in show business, the wedding was attended by famous celebrities like Queen Latifah, Russell Simmons, Arsenio Hall, and even Bruce Willis.
He Helped Many Stars Get Their Start
Considered one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood at one point in his career, it’s no surprise that Eddie Murphy has helped other stars get their start as well. Major stars like Damon Wayans, Martin Lawrence, and Cuba Gooding Jr. all became household names thanks to appearing in Eddie’s films.
Even comedians like Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock largely owe their fame to Eddie. Even Eddie’s love interest in the rom-com “Boomerang,” Halle Berry, gained fame starring opposite the comedian.
Box Office Slump
Throughout the 1980s, Eddie Murphy seemed to have the Midas touch in Hollywood. From being plucked from obscurity to joining “Saturday Night Live” and later becoming a major film star, it seemed Eddie could do no wrong. Unfortunately, by the early 90s, his career had hit a snag.
The third installment of the “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise was poorly received, with even Eddie calling it “garbage” and his other films (“Harlem Nights” and “Boomerang” failed to register with audiences and critics). Little did he know that he would soon be hit with another career blow.
The Reason He Never Returned to “SNL”
It’s well-known that show business can be a cutthroat world, which is why Eddie probably assumed that the set of SNL (the place that made him a star) would be a safe place. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
The actor suddenly found his flailing career to be a punchline on the sketch comedy show when cast member David Spade held up a photo of Eddie and joked, “Look, children, a falling star.” Eddie felt betrayed by the cast members and vowed never to return to the show.
A Second Chance
Just when Eddie Murphy thought that his career was in an irreversible rut, he agreed to star in the 1996 remake of “The Nutty Professor.” The film, which featured Eddie playing a variety of hilarious characters, was an immediate hit. Eddie’s versatility and charisma left audiences and critics praising his performance.
Eddie’s friend, and fellow comedian, Chris Rock, even suggested that Eddie’s performance was worthy of an Oscar. The film was so popular and well-liked that Eddie returned for the sequel, “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” just a few years later.
A Night to Remember
Just as Eddie Murphy had fallen back into the good graces of Hollywood, everything changed overnight. In 1997, Eddie was pulled over by police on Santa Monica Boulevard, a notoriously seedy area known for streetwalkers. In his front seat was an escort named Atisone “Shalimar” Seiuli.
Though Eddie was eventually let go after explaining that he was simply giving her a ride home, the story quickly made headlines. The tabloid coverage was so hard on the actor that he vowed never to read anything printed about himself without having someone else go over it before!
The Surprising Film Roles He Turned Down
With so many film roles being created and offered, it’s no surprise that even the biggest actors sometimes have regrets about missed opportunities. It turns out that Eddie was not only asked to star in the classic film “Ghostbusters,” but he actually turned down a role in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”.
At the time, Eddie thought that the combination of animated characters in live-action movies was silly. Unfortunately, the movie proved to be a box-office success and an award-winning film. No wonder Eddie later said he feels like an idiot every time he sees it.
Eddie Puts His Voice to Good Use
Most fans would agree that Eddie Murphy has one of the most instantly-recognizable voices in Hollywood. It is this unique voice that led him to pursue voice roles — a wise career choice for the star! Disney exec Michael Eisner personally asked Eddie to provide the voice for the wise-cracking dragon sidekick in the 1998 animated Disney film, “Mulan.”
Eddie agreed, but under one condition — he gets to record all of his lines from his home in New Jersey! Today, his role as Mushu is one of Eddie’s most beloved characters!
Eddie Finds His Groove
By the late ‘90s, Eddie Murphy had found his sweet spot in show business — making family-friendly films. His success with the Disney film “Mulan” led to the film “Dr. Dolittle” and a sequel that was released just a few years later. His experience as a voice actor also led to him starring in several of the “Shrek” films.
Around this time, Eddie also starred in the films “Daddy Day Care” and “The Haunted Mansion.” Eddie’s electric onscreen energy and distinctive voice quickly made him a favorite for various generations of audiences.
His Hilarious Meeting With Prince
It seems that no matter how famous someone is, there will always be someone more famous. In the case of Eddie Murphy, despite being a major celebrity, even he was starstruck when he met Prince. Eddie explained that he was at the late music icon’s house once when Prince decided to go rollerskating at three in the morning wearing lit-up skates.
Calling the experience “surreal,” the actor also shared that Prince (who was his neighbor) would drive around in his old neighborhood in a purple car, blasting music!
Eddie’s Scene-Stealing Donkey
Though Eddie has starred in some of the most popular films of the past few decades, there is one role that is a favorite for many — his character Donkey in “Shrek”. Playing the hyperactive and fast-talking Donkey, Eddie quickly stole the scenes from even the animated film’s biggest stars, Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz.
2001’s “Shrek,” with its extremely talented cast, became popular with critics and audiences alike, even winning the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. For his role as “Donkey,” Eddie was reportedly paid more than $5 million for the first film.
Tell Me What You Want
In 2006 Eddie was caught up in another scene; however, this was not a Hollywood one. He met Mel B, the former Spice Girl star, and instantly fell for her. Their relationship involved everything, from wild parties to even wielder bedroom relations, a fast engagement, and it doesn't end there.
Mel B fell pregnant, and at first, Eddie wasn't so keen about it at all. The pregnancy became public and led to a paternity test and a very, very bitter end to the entire story.
She Was His
Mel B claimed Eddie wasn't treating her right, and she filed for divorce only nine months after they were married. Eddie argued he wasn't sure he was the father of the newborn baby, and the test was the next thing down the line.
Eventually, the two came to a divorce settlement. At first, Eddie wanted nothing to do with his daughter Angel, finding it very difficult to embrace her into his life. However, in recent years, he has come to terms with his responsibilities and has bonded with her.
The Film That Almost Ended Eddie’s Career
As in other moments of his career, just when things were starting to look up, Eddie Murphy’s career would take a turn for the worse. Hot off the heels of the success of “Shrek,” Eddie starred in one of the biggest box office bombs in cinematic history — “The Adventures of Pluto Nash.”
The campy space-themed comedy was critically panned and made just $7 million despite having had a budget of $100 million! To this day, the film is considered one of the worst films made in recent decades.
The Sad Ending of Eddie’s Love Story
Just like regular couples, some celebrity couples find themselves going their separate ways after getting married. Eddie decided to divorce Nicole after more than a decade together. Though no one knew exactly what caused their divorce beyond the explanation of irreconcilable differences, many assumed that it was Eddie’s unpredictable career choices and his 1997 scandal that put a strain on the marriage.
At the time of their divorce, Eddie and Nicole had five children — a number that would swell significantly with Eddie’s future relationships!
How “Dreamgirls” Became a Dreamy Role for Eddie
By 2006 Eddie Murphy had found himself in a dark place following his divorce and needed to prove his worth in Hollywood after several flops. Luckily, he was given an opportunity to star in the award-winning film adaptation of the musical “Dreamgirls.”
Eddie’s role as the singer Jimmy “Thunder” Early earned him a Golden Globe award for Best Supporting Actor and even an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Critics and fans were simply blown away by his performance. Once again, Eddie had surprised the world with his enormous talent.
The Hasty Exit Seen Around the World
If there’s one thing that can be said about Eddie Murphy, it is that he has no shortage of confidence. Unfortunately, this confidence can sometimes result in some rather not nice behavior. At the 2007 Academy Awards, Eddie was apparently so upset to have lost the award for Best Supporting Actor to Alan Arking for “Little Miss Sunshine” that he stormed out of the show!
His quick exit made him miss his co-star Jennifer Hudson receiving an award for Best Supporting Actress and even the cast performing several songs from the film!
The Surprise Netflix Hit
Having shown that he can do more serious roles, Eddie Murphy once again proved just how talented he was when he starred in the 2019 Netflix film “Dolemite Is My Name.” The film, based on the life of comedian and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, became an instant hit and garnered a positive reaction from critics.
The critically-acclaimed film, and Eddie, were nominated for various awards, including Golden Globe awards. The film was especially important for Eddie, who was largely influenced by the late comedy legend.
Eddie Goes Back to Where It All Started
Though he once vowed never to set foot on the set of “Saturday Night Live” again after his feud with cast member David Spade, Eddie Murphy surprised fans when he decided to host an episode in 2019. Eddie was welcomed to the stage by fellow comedians Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, and Kenan Thompson as he delivered his monologue.
Much to the delight of many, Eddie reprised many of his most famous “SNL” characters like Buckwheat, Mr. Robinson, and even Gumby. The appearance was such as success that he even earned a Primetime Emmy Award for hosting!
We Are Family
In addition to being one of the most popular actors and comedians in the world, Eddie Murphy has another great accomplishment — the star is a father to ten children! Eddie’s children: Max, Eric, Miles, Zola, Bella, Angel, Bria, Christian, Shayne, and Izzy range in age from toddlers to adults!
Eddie has shared how proud he is of his children and how meaningful being a father has been. The proud father recently told one interviewer that he doesn’t have “one bad seed” and that despite their famous father, his kids are just normal people.