Eddie’s career represents a typical Hollywood rags-to-riches story as he was catapulted from humble and tough origins in Brooklyn to movie superstardom by the time he was just nineteen!
The youngest out of two sons to mother Lillian, Eddie was young when his father died. Later his mother remarried and together with new husband Vernon and a stepbrother, the would-be megastar grew up on the streets of New York.
Having shown an aptitude for comedy and impersonations during his teenage years Eddie got his break as a stand-up at Manhattan’s comedy showcase ‘Comic Strip’ club in the early 1980s. Shortly afterwards he successfully auditioned for ‘Saturday Night Live’ (1981-84) where Eddie nurtured his comedic talents and created memorable Afro-American characters.
1982 proved to be Eddie’s breakthrough year when he won a coveted role at only twenty two co-starring with Nick Nolte in the classic buddy-cop flick ’48 Hrs’. Further hits followed with the off-the-wall John Landis comedy ‘Trading Places’ co-starring Dan Aykroyd and a very revealing Jamie-Lee-Curtis.
A somewhat forgotten cameo in the mediocre ‘Best Defense’ was thankfully overshadowed by Eddie’s hugely successful franchise ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984) which had originally been written for Sly Stallone.
The Beverly series (three movies in total) transformed Eddie into a bona fide mega-salary movie star. Playing Alex Foley, a cheeky, irreverent and hip Detroit cop who is transposed to La La Land, the role earned him a Golden Globe nomination.
Murphy was at the time one of only a few black actors who could be counted as box office stars and the young actor played it safe by appearing in crowd-pleasing blockbusters. However, some movies missed the mark altogether, such as ‘The Golden Child’ (1986) which although critically panned was still a box office hit due to Eddie’s starring name on the posters.
It was probably inevitable that ‘Beverly Cops II’ (1987) wasn’t going to receive favourable reviews as sequels usually fail to deliver the goods. But still the movie was a massive earner for the star and studio.
‘Coming To America’ (1988) another John Landis comedy partnership continued box office success until sadly Murphy’s very own directorial debut with the 1989 flick ‘Harlem Nights’. This spoof ‘Godfather’ style comedy-thriller set in the '30s and co-starring Richard Pryor, failed to set the box office alight.
Perhaps this set back enticed Murphy to take up the buddy-cop reins again on ‘Another 48 Hrs’ (1990) reuniting him with buddy Nick Nolte, but the sequel was a disappointing near replica of the original despite Walter ‘Red Dawn’ Hill in the director’s chair.
Changing tack slightly, this time playing a hopeless romantic in ‘Boomerang’ (1992) did very little to revitalise Eddie’s now chequered career, despite having Mr Tyson’s Misses (Robin Givens) as the glamorous love interest.
That same year Eddie’s ‘The Distinguished Gentleman’ kept aboard the comedy track taking on the role of one Thomas Jefferson Johnson, a con man who tries to get one over on Congress. The flick was critically well received and likened to an Ealing comedy. However, its combination of astute political observation and breezy off-the-wall comedy failed to mine the usual box office gold associated with Mr Murphy’s charismatic on-screen persona.
It was the remake of Jerry Lewis’ 50’s comedy caper ‘The Nutty Professor’ that was to bring Eddie back into big-time box office league again. The 1996 movie, this time utilising mid '90s CGI technology and incredible prosthetics, ensured that this light-hearted fare –with a few vulgar touches- became a huge hit for the now thirty-five year old actor.
‘Nutty’ also spearheaded a move into more obvious family fare for Murphy, miles away from the usual foul mouthed, raw and sometimes violent adult entertainment that he was normally associated with.
The ‘Doctor Dolittle’ remake in 1998, only this time with a black doctor and occasional more gutsy and crude humour, seemed fitting for the late '90s. But it did characterise an actor, who despite his comedic talent and cutting edge beginnings was becoming more associated with special effects and puppetry.
His next film in the same year with Disney, where he lent his voice to the feature cartoon ‘Mulan’ at least utilised his vocal skills without prosthetic distractions.
It was therefore a refreshing treat to see Eddie in a totally unexpected and endearing role playing a dork in the Steve Martin vehicle ‘Bowfinger’ (1999). Eddie got the chance to subvert his very own charismatic, sex idol persona to play ‘Jiff’ a bespectacled idiot. But Eddie also sent up his own ‘serious actor’ side by doubling as the fictional movie star Kit Ramsey in the same film. Eddie’s performance was a tour de force illustrating just how versatile the former Brooklyn boy is.
Shrek (2001) allowed Murphy to make a splash with younger audiences utilising his comedic skills once again playing a chatterbox donkey to Mike Myers flatulent green monster in the brilliantly funny animation picture. The sequel ‘Shrek 2’ (2004) reportedly paid him a $10m cheque for his vocal services.
Other action movies followed but without much impact, ‘I Spy’ and ‘Showtime’ both (2002), ‘Daddy Day Care’ (2003) and another ‘Shrek’ outing with the unremarkable ‘Far, Far Away’ and the even lamer family ghost-horror film ‘The Haunted Mansion’ (2003).
Still, maybe Eddie’s getting residuals every time someone jumps on the ride at Disneyland?
Eddie also hasn’t escaped the curse of Hollywood gossip and scandal over the years. Father of five children, two of them are the products of relationships with Tamara Hood and Paulette McNeely.
Eddie’s late night-time encounter in 1997 with Shalimar Seiuli, a Californian transsexual, was ranked No61 on E TV’s ‘The Greatest Shocking Moments In Entertainment History’
Shalimar, who took her name from a French fragrance was crowned Miss American Samoa Island Queen in 1993. Later she became a celebrity as ‘House Madam’ at the Club7969. She died tragically after an accidental fall in 1998 but was highlighted in Candace Watkin's book ‘In The Closet With Eddie’ which featured interviews from transsexuals who claimed to have bedded the actor.
Eddie's fortunes turned around in 2006/2007 with the movie version of the Broadway musical 'Dreamgirls' as soul singer James "Thunder" Early. He 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.
However the comedian was again embroiled in controversy following a relationship with Spice Girl Mel B. After the couple split up, the singer claimed that Murphy was the father of her child, called Angel. Murphy initially denied the claim until Mel B - real name Melanie Brown - took legal action to establish him as a parent. The 46-year-old later released a statement through his publicist saying he would "honour his responsibilities as a father".
Murphy is currently in a relationship with film producer Tracey Edmonds and is currently slated to appear in another instalment of the 'Beverly Hills Cop' franchise.