What’s your favorite Eddie Murphy movie? Did you love seeing him as Axel Foley in 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop? Maybe you enjoyed him as, well, pretty much every character in 1996’s The Nutty Professor. You might have also been a fan of his performance in 1988’s Coming to America as well as its 2021 sequel. Or are you a fan of his old school work from his days on Saturday Night Live? Oh, but wait! You surely haven’t forgotten about the fact that he was the voice of the quirky donkey in the popular Shrek franchise. From comedy to action to animated voice work, he’s definitely done a lot when it comes to his career in the entertainment industry. That includes incredibly successful stand-up work, with The New York Times deeming him to be “one of the funniest people to ever tell jokes into a microphone.” High praise, indeed!
Yet, “remarkably, despite [enjoying] a career that spans 40 years, and is chock-full of memorable performances,” according to IndieWire, “he’s been nominated for an Oscar just once” thanks to his supporting character in Dreamgirls. That happened to be an honor “which he didn’t win, despite picking up both the SAG and Golden Globe awards for the role.” Er, ouch.
If that shocks you, then you will surely be intrigued, and downright surprised by the following untold truths about Eddie Murphy’s life both in show business as well as when it comes to his (sometimes complicated and always interesting) personal life.
Eddie Murphy had a traumatic childhood
While Eddie Murphy is known for making people laugh, he sadly had a troubled upbringing. As he told Rolling Stone, his parents divorced when he was three, and a year later his mom became sick with tuberculosis. While his mother was in the hospital, Eddie, along with his brother, Charlie Murphy, were sent to foster care with a woman named Ms. Jenkins. Eddie said in Rolling Stone, “[A]t Ms. Jenkins’ house, she said the TV was broke, and late at night, we’d hear her in there watching The Tonight Show and be like, ‘The TV works, that b***h is lying.'” He also remembers that Ms. Jenkins was abusive towards his older brother, admitting, “She beat on Charlie. She didn’t beat on me, I was too little.”
The Murphy brothers were in foster care for about a year and a half before their family was hit with more traumatic news. In 1969, Eddie’s father, Charles Murphy, who was a New York City police officer, was “fatally stabbed by a girlfriend,” according to the AP. When Eddie thought back about his early childhood, he told Rolling Stone, “Up until eight, every year, it was something traumatic going on. I’m sure all of that’s repressed.”
Two (but kind of three) marriages for Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy has been married once, kind of married a second time, and is set to get married again as of writing. The star met his first wife, Nicole Murphy, in 1988 and the two tied the knot in 1993. However, in August 2005, People confirmed that they were splitting after 12 years of marriage. The exes seem to still be relatively friendly and in 2020, People reported the actor and his “girlfriend Paige Butcher were all smiles … alongside [his] ex-wife Nicole Murphy and the former couple’s daughters, Bria and Shayne, as the crew attended the Los Angeles premiere of Bria’s new movie Amateur Night.”
Following his time with Nicole, the star then had a marriage ceremony with Tracey Edmonds in 2008. However, the ceremony was apparently “symbolic,” according to a statement the pair gave to People. It also wasn’t legal because it was held outside of the United States — specifically, on a private island near Bora Bora — which may have made things easier when they split just weeks later.
A decade after that, the actor got engaged to Paige Butcher who was pregnant with their second child at the time. According to the Daily Mail, the couple met in 2006 when Murphy was visiting his friend Martin Lawrence “on the set of Big Momma’s House 2,” a film that Butcher had a small role in. The two did not get together until 2012 though, and have since had two children, Izzy Oona and Max Charles.
Eddie Murphy has a big family
Eddie Murphy has had some big onscreen roles, but none as big as being a father to 10 children (not to mention the fact that he’s a grandfather). The Murphy offspring range in age from little ones to adults, and in December 2018, he posed for a sweet holiday pic with all of them.
If you’re curious, his children are the product of five separate relationships, as noted by PopSugar. He shares his first child, Eric, with his former girlfriend Paulette McNeely. With his first wife, model Nicole Murphy, he has Bria, Shayne, Zola, Bella, and Miles. Then came Christian, whose mother is Tamara Hood. And with former Spice Girl and America’s Got Talent judge Melanie Brown, he has a daughter named Angel — yes, it did take a sticky legal situation for Murphy to finally admit that he was her father. And finally, the Daddy Day Care star has two children, Izzy and Max, with Paige Butcher.
In 2016, Murphy told People, “I really got lucky with my kids. There really isn’t a bad one in the bunch, everyone turned out to be really good people.” He also talked about how people react to him having so many kids while chatting with Ellen DeGeneres, saying, “Men kind of look at me like, ‘He’s crazy. How much did that s**t cost?’ And women, it’s kind of like there’s something sexy about it, I think. ‘Eddie Murphy must be doing his thing. Eddie Murphy be gettin’ it in. He don’t be bulls**tting.'”
Yes, Eddie Murphy had a massive Elvis collection
Eddie Murphy is a serious fan of Elvis Presley. When he was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2019, he was asked about the fact that he had one of the world’s biggest Elvis memorabilia collections. He said that was no longer the case, before adding, “I used to when I was younger.” He explained that when he “got a little older,” he was like, “Hey man, why I got this sh**?” Although he says he still loves the King, he admitted, “He was much cooler when I was younger. When you get older, you start to see the whole picture. … ‘Hey man, take that sh*t off the wall … Sell all the jumpsuits, man.'”
But what was it that drew Murphy to be such a collector of Presley memorabilia in the first place? That undeniable star power. “I don’t think anyone in this business has had as much presence as Elvis,” he explained on The Arsenio Hall Show. Murphy’s adoration for the pelvis-thrusting musician has even made his way into the comedian’s routine. Just check out his impersonation during the stand-up comedy routine in Delirious.
Presley’s legacy is a complicated one that includes concerns regarding racism and cultural appropriation. When Rolling Stone asked Murphy about this, he said, “You go back far enough… every star you loved was some kind of racist… And you can’t fault them — that’s the times.”
Eddie Murphy is not super techy
Eddie Murphy probably won’t be checking out your TikTok videos anytime soon. That’s because he isn’t into online offerings or techy stuff. Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter, “I don’t have a computer, I don’t have email, I don’t have any of that sh*t.” He added, “I don’t need to be on social media interacting with the fans, tweeting that I just ate strawberries.”
Fair enough, but considering the fact that the star is still very much in the spotlight — like when he earned a Golden Globe nod in 2020 for Dolemite is My Name, charmed fans in 2021’s Coming to America 2, and signed on for Beverly Hills Cop 4 — it seems strange to not want to keep fans updated on what he’s up to. Frankly, other stars his age like Michael J. Fox and George Lopez boast an impressive 1 million and 1.4 million followers respectively as of writing. Despite that, Murphy told Rolling Stone, “The computer is a trip to me. Sit in a room, everybody is on their computer or phone. I don’t do any of it.”
Granted, Murphy did give in when it came to one device. He talked about finally getting a phone after asking a lady for her number, saying, “I was like, ‘Let me get a pen and a piece of paper.’ She was like, ‘That’s cute, you want to do this the old-fashioned way.'” Yikes, talk about being called out!
Don't worry about getting Eddie Murphy a drink
It might be hard to avoid alcohol in Hollywood. In fact, there are a fair share of A-List celebrities who want you to try out (and buy up) their specific brand of it. For example, George Clooney was involved in Casamigos Tequila, Ryan Reynolds has Aviation Gin, and Sean “Diddy” Combs is the famous face behind Ciroc Vodka. However, there are also celebrities who chose to stay away from the spirits like Natalie Portman, Elton John, and Kendrick Lamar. Eddie Murphy is also one of them.
The star talked to Rolling Stone about the few occasions when he did indulge, recalling one time when “Arsenio got [him] drunk” and revealed that it was the same “night [he] fought with John Landis on the set of Coming to America.” Another time it took a special occasion for the star to take a sip, with him explaining, “I got drunk on my honeymoon when I drank three glasses of champagne. I’m terrible… I don’t throw up if I drink, but I can’t drink.”
Murphy also credits his youthful looks and lifestyle to lack of alcohol, telling Rolling Stone, “That’s why I look 35, I don’t drink and no stress.” As for drugs, he admitted, “I’ve done all that s***, but I’m not a drinker.” One of the reasons he stays away is because he noted, “I know if I would have f***ed around with that, I would have been all the way in. I’d have made a million headlines.”
Why Eddie Murphy ditched his famous laugh
Eddie Murphy just had one of those laughs that’s hard not to notice. If you flashback to Beverly Hills Cop, his throaty-on-the-brink-of-hyperventilating guffaw immediately cut the tension of any scene and has been the subject of many internet remixes. But there’s a very good reason why you might not have heard that same laugh lately.
When Rolling Stone asked Murphy about what had happened to his “signature laugh,” the star explained, “I don’t laugh like that anymore, somehow it doesn’t come out.” Frankly, he admitted that it got to the point where his laugh became something that was expected. He recalled, “There were a couple of times where I laughed because I knew it would make people laugh. Then it got weird. People came up to me and said, ‘Do that laugh,’ or if you laugh, someone turns around and goes, ‘Eddie?’ I just stopped doing it.” There is something to be said for the fact that Murphy ditched what was expected of him and instead let his range speak for itself. It seems to be the crux of the original gigglers, as some unique laughs seem to follow Hollywood stars throughout their work. Can we really think of Seth Rogen, Julia Roberts, Will Smith, or Ricky Gervais without hearing their signature cackle?
Although we can still see Murphy on the big screen rolling out belly laughs in comedies to come, it will have to be without the help of his own signature laugh.
The major movies that almost featured Eddie Murphy
Can you imagine if Christina Applegate had ended up playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde instead of Reese Witherspoon? Or could we have really gotten used to Emily Blunt as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of Scarlett Johansson? What about ditching Keanu Reeves for Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix? Not only were all of those onscreen situations actual possibilities, but there were also a few roles that Eddie Murphy had a chance at yet missed out on.
For instance, Murphy could have been in the original Ghostbusters. When asked by Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show if he had indeed been given a chance to be a part of the film, the actor explained that he had, but couldn’t take the gig. “Because I did Beverly Hills Cop,” he said. “It wasn’t like I turned it down, in as much as I wasn’t available because I did this other movie.” In an interview with Parade, Murphy admitted, “I wish I could have been in both.”
Murphy also told Fallon about another big-time film that he said no to and has lingering regrets about. “The only movie that I have turned down that became a big hit was that Who Framed Roger Rabbit … I was going to be the Bob Hoskins dude. I was like, what? Animation and people sounds like bulls**t to me. Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot.”
Eddie Murphy in Star Trek?
Eddie Murphy on the Enterprise? It could have happened. Murphy has not been shy about expressing his adoration for the beloved science fiction series Star Trek. In 1983’s Delirious, he explained, “The only good show on T.V. now is Star Trek.” He even dropped a little bit of Trekkie love in his 1992 film Boomerang, saying, “I’m a Trekkie, that’s why I broke it down to the barest essence of Trek, I’m a Trekkie, I know everything about Star Trek.”
Frankly, Murphy almost appeared in the Star Trek universe. In 1986, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was released and writer Steve Meerson told The Hollywood Reporter that “the original draft included a part for Eddie Murphy.” As Meerson explained, they were very aware of Murphy’s Star Trek fandom, plus he “was on the lot at Paramount at the time.” According to THR, “Murphy was going to play an astrophysicist at Berkeley.” However, ScreenRant noted that the star “passed on” the opportunity “because the role didn’t appeal to him, and he signed on to fantasy blockbuster The Golden Child instead.”
Apparently, the actor wanted a little more out of the possible role, telling Access Hollywood (via TrekMovie.com), “I don’t want to be the jive dude with Spock, I want to have pointed ears and a phaser and I want to beam and I want to do all of that … and I never got to do it.”
Razzie redemption for Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy may have been in plenty of popular movies — for instance, 1996’s The Nutty Professor made “$273m worldwide,” according to Forbes — but he’s also been in his fair share of films that weren’t that well received. Take his 2007 movie Norbit, for example, which according to Entertainment Weekly, was “one of the worst-reviewed movies in recent memory” at the time. That’s why Murphy is on the radar of the Razzie Awards, which according to USA Today, “honor what the group deems the most abysmal films and performances that Hollywood has to offer.”
Unfortunately for Murphy, the Razzies took a whiff of Murphy’s questionable performance in Norbit, and in turn, he “score[d a] Razzie hat-trick” in 2008 when he “was named worst actor, worst supporting actor and worst supporting actress,” according to The Guardian. He was also given the Razzie Award for the Worst Actor Of The Decade in 2010 thanks to his films The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I Spy, Imagine That, Meet Dave, Norbit, and Showtime.
However, 2020 painted a different picture of Murphy as he came back in full force at the 40th Razzie Awards. His work in Dolemite is My Name, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy Motion Picture, helped him win the Razzie Redeemer Award, overcoming fellow nominees Keanu Reeves (John Wick 3 and Toy Story 4), Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems), Jennifer Lopez (Hustlers), and Will Smith (Aladdin).
Eddie Murphy is really rich
Eddie Murphy has been in the spotlight for a long time, from his time on Saturday Night Live which spanned from 1980 to 1984 and saw him deemed the person who saved the show, to his first starring roles in 48 Hrs and Trading Places. From there, he went on to appear in his smash hit film Beverly Hills Cop which was the third “most successful comedy of all time” and earned “$576.1 million,” according to Business Insider. Of course, he was also a part of other seriously successful movies like Shrek and The Nutty Professor, which is why Business Insider noted that his films have earned “$3.811 billion” at the box office and made him someone worth banking on.
And in 2019, TMZ reported Murphy and Netflix were in talks to have him bring back his stand-up comedy for the popular platform, and “negotiations [were] hovering right around $70 MILLION.” That would put him in the company of Dave Chappelle who “scored $60 mil for 3 stand-up specials on Netflix” as well as “Chris Rock [who] got $40 million for 2 specials.” It’s surely justified, though, as Rolling Stone included Murphy on their list of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comedians of All Time thanks to the success of his popular specials Raw and Delirious.
Not surprisingly, Murphy has quite a few dollars to his name. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he’s worth a whopping $200 million.
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