It's hard to believe, but April 3, 2021, marks Eddie Murphy's 60th birthday! In honor of the milestone, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at his life and career in photos… Keep reading as we flash back through the decades…
Eddie Murphy was born on April 3, 1961. His father, Charles Edward, died when he was young. Around the same time, Eddie's mom, Lillian, became sick, so Eddie and older brother Charlie lived in foster care for a year. Eddie is pictured here in the 1980s with stepfather Vernon Sr., his mother and half-brother Vernon Jr. Eddie started writing and performing his own comedy routines when he was in high school. His big break came at 19 when he joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" for the show's sixth season.
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Eddie Murphy spent four years with "Saturday Night Live." His most popular characters included a grownup version of Buckwheat from "The Little Rascals," cynical Gumby and Mr. Robinson, which was a spoof of Mr. Rogers (shown here). During his "SNL" tenure, he was nominated for three Emmys but never won while he was a cast member. (That changed nearly four decades later, however.)
Since his days as a stand-up comedian, Eddie Murphy has been skilled at impersonations. When he was on "Saturday Night Live," he did a number of sketches as Stevie Wonder — including during skits with Stevie Wonder (shown here). Years later, when Eddie was feted by the Spike network with a special, "Eddie Murphy: One Night Only," the comedian and the legendary singer performed a duet.
Stevie Wonder wasn't the only person Eddie Murphy poked fun at while maintaining a friendship. Eddie often imitated and told jokes about Michael Jackson, yet the two were good friends. "Michael and Stevie were people that I knew, and they were part of my social circle," Eddie told The Guardian in 2015. "I was able to play around and poke fun — they would never get mad." Eddie and Michael even collaborated on one of Eddie's songs, 1993's "Whatzupwitu." Eddie also appeared in Michael's Egypt-inspired music video for "Remember the Time" in 1992.
Oh yeah, didn't you know that Eddie Murphy was also a musician? Although his music was never critically acclaimed, he released a number of albums and had a few hit singles, including 1985's "Party All the Time." (Rick James, shown here with Eddie in 1983, produced that track.) Eddie also released a few comedy albums, including " Eddie Murphy: Comedian," which earned him a Grammy in 1984.
Eddie Murphy also counts Tracy Morgan as one of his famous friends. "When I first came out of my coma, I spoke to Eddie on the phone, and he was the first one to make me laugh — and that's why I love you," Tracy said while honoring Eddie at the 18th Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor ceremony. "He's the reason why I'm in comedy, he's the reason why I have a job, he's the reason why I have a career." Eddie and Tracy are seen here in 2010.
Eddie Murphy didn't just have iconic comedy routines — he had an iconic look too. Back in 1983, he rocked this red leather jacket and pants combo for the HBO special "Delirious." In fact, at the "Eddie Murphy: One Night Only" celebration for Spike, pal Tracy Morgan sported a similar look to honor the man of the hour.
With the success of "Delirious," Eddie Murphy filmed another stand-up comedy movie, 1987's "Eddie Murphy Raw," this time for wide release. At the time, the movie held the record for the most F-word usage — 223 times — but three years later, it was beaten out by "Goodfellas." Still, nearly 30 years later, "Eddie Murphy Raw" has retained one impressive title: It's the most lucrative stand-up comedy movie of all time.
In the early '80s, Eddie Murphy decided to branch out from skits and stand-up and began making movies. His big-screen debut was in 1982's action-comedy "48 Hrs.," in which he played a convict who helps catch a cop killer. The performance earned Eddie a Golden Globe nomination. The movie's sequel, "Another 48 Hrs.," was released in 1990.
Eddie Murphy didn't waste any time before making another movie. In 1983, he paired up with fellow "Saturday Night Live" alum Dan Aykroyd for "Trading Places."
Eddie Murphy earned his first solo headlining credit starring as Axel Foley in 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop." The performance scored Eddie his third Golden Globe nomination and launched the "Beverly Hills Cop" trilogy. A fourth "Beverly Hills Cop" film was in the works and scheduled for a 2016 release, but the project has been put on hold.
Eddie Murphy put the "com" in rom-com with 1988's "Coming to America." In the movie, Eddie plays an African prince who moves to New York City's Queens borough to find his princess. The funny flick was a smash hit and remains one of the top romantic comedies in movie history.
Eddie Murphy had a big job on his hands when he starred in 1996's "The Nutty Professor." The movie, which was a remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis original, featured Eddie playing seven characters including morbidly obese professor Sherman Klump and his trim alter ego, Buddy Love. The movie won an Oscar for Best Makeup, earned Eddie a Golden Globe nomination and spawned a 2000 sequel, "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." "The Nutty Professor" also marked Eddie's first foray into family-friendly fare.
In 2001, Eddie Murphy began playing what might be his most famous role to date: Donkey in the "Shrek" series. "Shrek" was followed by 2004's "Shrek 2," 2007's "Shrek the Third" and 2010's "Shrek Forever After."
Eddie Murphy scored his first Oscar nomination for playing James "Thunder" Early in 2006's "Dreamgirls." Although Eddie was the frontrunner for Best Supporting Actor, Alan Arkin won the prize for his performance in "Little Miss Sunshine." Eddie proved to be the ultimate sore loser when he stormed out of the show and didn't return.
That isn't to say Eddie Murphy didn't bring home any statues for his mantle for his work in "Dreamgirls." In 2007, he scored his first Golden Globe Award for his performance in the movie (and boy, did he look proud!).
However, not all of Eddie Murphy's projects have been successes. In fact, some have been utter duds. "The Adventures of Pluto Nash," which was released in 2002, was his all-time worst-performing movie. (It actually lost money.) Other bombs include 2008's "Meet Dave," 1998's "Holy Man," 2009's "Imagine That" and 2012's "A Thousand Words," which has a 0% rating on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
Over the years, Eddie Murphy has earned a number of Hollywood honors. In 1987, he had his handprints and footprints memorialized in cement outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.
Eddie Murphy also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At the 1996 ceremony, he scored a kiss from then-wife Nicole Mitchell. Sadly, the sidewalk star would outlast their romance, which ended in divorce in 2005 after 12 years of marriage.
In 2008, Eddie Murphy said "I do" to Tracey Edmonds during a private ceremony in Bora Bora. However, their marriage wasn't valid because they didn't have a legal ceremony. It's a good thing too — the couple called it quits two weeks after they exchanged vows.
Eddie Murphy wasn't the only comedian in his family. His older brother, Charlie Murphy, also worked in Hollywood. He did stand-up comedy and wrote two of Eddie's movies, "A Vampire in Brooklyn" and "Norbit." Charlie (seen here with Edie in 2012) passed away from leukemia in 2017 at 57.
Eddie Murphy's latest love is model Paige Butcher. The couple started dating in 2012. They're seen together here in March 2016 when she was pregnant with their first child together, daughter Izzy.
Fatherhood with Paige Butcher should be a cakewalk for Eddie Murphy, who has 10 children now. He's seen here with seven of them in 2010. He has five kids — Bria, Myles, Shayne, Zola and Bella — with ex-wife Nicole Mitchell. He also has son Eric with ex-girlfriend Paulette McNeel and son Christian with ex-girlfriend Tamara Hood. Eddie's also the father of Spice Girls singer Melanie Brown's daughter Angel (not pictured). His youngest are Izzy and son Max (also not pictured) with fiancée Paige.
After years away from the screen and from comedy, Eddie Murphy made a bit of a comeback with the Netflix movie "Dolemite is My Name" in 2019. His work in the film scored him a Golden Globe nomination in 2020.
It took nearly four decades, but Eddie Murphy finally won an Emmy: 37 years after he earned his first Emmy nomination for his work as a cast member on "Saturday Night Live," Eddie won the award for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series in 2020 for his performance guest hosting "SNL" in December 2019. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Eddie accepted the honor virtually.
In 2021, "Coming 2 America" was finally released. Eddie Murphy starred alongside Arsenio Hall, Jermaine Fowler, Leslie Jones and Tracy Morgan in the sequel to his popular 1988 film. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it saw a digital release via Prime Video in March.