Eddie Murphy was one of the biggest comedy icons to emerge in the 1980s, and for a time his name alone was enough to bring audiences flooding in to theatres all over the world.

After emerging in stand-up, then reaching a wider audience on TV, he then broke into the movies and headlined a series of huge hits which remain popular favourites to this day – and his best days aren’t necessarily all behind him, as he’s enjoyed something of a comeback in recent years.

He’s definitely one of our favourite stars of the 80s, but there’s plenty about Eddie Murphy which you might not have known. Take a look at the following facts, for instance…


20. His father was murdered and he was in foster care as a child

Born Edward Regan Murphy in 1961, Eddie found fame as a funnyman – but when you hear about his childhood you’ll see there isn’t a lot to laugh about.

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Eddie’s father Charles Edward Murphy, a transit police officer with aspirations of being an actor and comedian, died when he was son was only 8 years old.

The actor and comedian told Rolling Stone in 1989, “My mother and father broke up when I was three, and he died when I was eight, so I have very dim memories.”

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“He was a victim of the Murphy charm. A woman stabbed my father. I never got all the logistics. It was supposed to be one of those crimes of passion: ‘If I can’t have you, no one else will,’ kind of deal.”

Later, when their mother fell ill, Eddie and his elder brother Charlie had to live in foster care for a year.

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Murphy has claimed that this tumultuous time in his life was influential in developing his unique sense of humour.

19. He was only 19 when he joined SNL

While Murphy achieved his greatest fame as a film actor, he really made his name as a stand-up comedian.

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Inspired by Richard Pryor, Murphy made his debut as a stand-up in the mid-70s, whilst still a teenager.

He was so successful so soon that by 1980 he was recruited to the cast of renowned comedy series Saturday Night Live.

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Murphy was still only 19 years old when he joined the show, and he would go on to appear in 65 episodes.

He would bring his comedy to a wider audience with the TV special Eddie Murphy: Delirious, and the theatrically released Eddie Murphy: Raw.

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In 2005, Comedy Central ranked Murphy at number ten on their top 100 list of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

18. He was supposed to star in Ghostbusters

Everyone remembers Ghostbusters as the supernatural comedy classic starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson.

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However, in writer and actor Aykroyd’s first draft of the script, his vision of the story was a bit different.

Originally, Aykroyd planned to co-star in the film alongside John Belushi and, of course, Eddie Murphy.

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However, Belushi’s sudden and unexpected death in 1982 forced a rethink, and his role ended up going to Murray.

Murphy remained attached to appear as Winston until fairly late in the day, but ultimately dropped out to make Beverly Hills Cop.

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Murphy was reportedly disappointed at how little the character of Winston had to do in the film – something which replacement Ernie Hudson has also admitted being unhappy about in the years since.

17. Mickey Rourke and Sylvester Stallone were offered Beverly Hills Cop before him

1984’s Beverly Hills Cop was a massively successful action comedy which turned Murphy into a mainstream superstar.

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However, with a different roll of the dice the story of Detroit cop Axel Foley wreaking havoc in the illustrious city could have been very different.

The first actor offered the role was Mickey Rourke, who abandoned the project to make another film. Next, Beverly Hills Cop very nearly got made with Sylvester Stallone in the lead.

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However, Stallone insisted on heavily rewriting the script, making it a harder-edged action movie. When his ideas were rejected, he too left the project (and would eventually take his ideas into his 1986 film Cobra).

With barely two weeks before they were due to start shooting, producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson decided to take a chance on Eddie Murphy, who – despite the success of 48 Hrs. and Trading Places – was still relatively little known.

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Casting a black actor in a role originally intended for a white man was considered a bold move in Hollywood at the time, and it paid off: Beverly Hills Cop was 1984’s biggest box office hit, making over $316 million.

16. He’s fathered ten children with five different women

It’s fair to say that Eddie Murphy has enjoyed some rather fruitful relationships with women over the years.

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The actor and comedian is father to a jaw-dropping ten children with five different women.

Paulette McNeely gave birth to Murphy’s first child, Eric, in 1990. Murphy’s first wife, Nicole Murphy, gave birth to his daughter Bria later the same year.

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Nicole had a further four children with Murphy before their split, after which Murphy was briefly in a relationship with Mel B of the Spice Girls.

Notoriously, Murphy initially denied being the father of Mel B’s daughter Angel, but accepted the truth when blood tests proved otherwise.

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Murphy has another son with Tamara Hood Johnson, and two with his current partner Paige Butcher.

15. He’s worth around $250-300 million

Eddie Murphy has made no bones about having made certain films just for the money (notably Beverly Hills Cop III, which he didn’t want to make but was paid $15 million for).

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Whatever you think of some of the films Murphy has made, you can’t really question his business acumen when you see how well he’s done financially.

After his impoverished upbringing, Murphy’s first big break on Saturday Night Live earned him $4,500 per episode; this went up to $30,000 after a year, as his star was on the ascent.

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Several years later, Murphy was earning paydays of $8 million per movie for Beverly Hills Cop II and Coming to America.

Then in the 1990s, movies like The Nutty Professor and Dr Dolittle earned Murphy around $20 million upfront, plus a cut of the gross profits.

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Today Murphy’s worth is estimated at being in the region of $250-300 million, factoring in a $70 million deal he signed with Netflix in 2019.

14. He was offered Candyman, but the filmmakers couldn’t afford him

As hard as it may be to imagine now, at one point Eddie Murphy was a possibility for the title role in Candyman.

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Bernard Rose, director and screenwriter of the 1992 horror classic based on a Clive Barker story, initially wanted Murphy for the lead.

However, the filmmakers didn’t have that huge a budget to play with, and Murphy proved to be out of their price range.

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Ultimately, the role instead went to Tony Todd – who, at 6’5″ and with a famously deep and gravelly voice, was a natural fit.

In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine the 5’9″ Murphy with his comedic sensibility being able to bring anything like the same gravitas to Candyman.

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Still, Murphy did have a crack at horror with Vampire in Brooklyn, directed by the legendary Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream).

13. He was was supposed to be in Star Trek IV

One thing you might not necessarily expect about Eddie Murphy is that he’s a huge fan of Star Trek.

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As a matter of fact, at the height of his 80s fame Murphy came close to joining the crew of the Starship Enterprise.

Early on in development on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, it was planned that Murphy would appear in the film.

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Spock actor and director Leonard Nimoy hired Beverly Hills Cop screenwriter Daniel Petrie Jr. to write a script with a key supporting role for Murphy.

In this script, the crew of the Enterprise travel back in time to the 1980s and meet Murphy, a college professor and UFO enthusiast.

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Murphy didn’t like the script and chose to make The Golden Child instead, and his character was rewritten as a marine biologist played by Catherine Hicks.

12. His 2002 film The Adventures of Pluto Nash is one of the biggest box office flops of all time

By the early 2000s, Murphy’s leading man career was in a bit of a strange place.

After breaking through as a perpetually expletive-spewing motor-mouth, the turn of the century saw Murphy starring almost exclusively in family films.

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Some of these, such as The Nutty Professor and Shrek movies, proved successful – but others, not so much.

The most spectacular failure of Murphy’s career was the 2002 sci-fi comedy The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

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The movie carried a substantial price tag of $100 million, so hopes were high for a hit.

Unfortunately for Murphy and company, The Adventures of Pluto Nash wound up one of the biggest box office flops of all time.

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The film received absolutely scathing reviews and made a paltry $7.1 million from cinemas worldwide.

11. He turned down a proposed Beverly Hills Cop/Crocodile Dundee crossover

Most people know that Beverly Hills Cop is Eddie Murphy’s signature franchise, with three films made to date.

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However, did you know that at one point Paramount Pictures mooted the idea of crossing the series over with another of their big 80s comedy franchises?

Yes, believe it or not there was at one point talk of Eddie Murphy and Paul Hogan sharing the screen in a Beverly Hills Cop/Crocodile Dundee crossover.

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Brandon Tartikoff, chairman of Paramount Pictures at the time, came up with the idea, seeing it as a potentially lucrative third instalment for both franchises.

However, the idea didn’t get very far as Murphy is said to have completely rejected it. (How Paul Hogan felt about it is unknown.)

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Both franchises would eventually get third instalments in 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III and 2001’s Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, neither of which were big hits.

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