The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Eddie Murphy
Eddie Regan Murphy was born 3 April 1961 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, New York. His father died when he was very young, and his mother, an employee of the telephone company, then married Vernon Lynch, a foreman at an ice cream plant. Murphy demonstrated comic talent at an early age; by the time he was 15 he was performing at youth centers and the Roosevelt High School auditorium. He was voted "most popular" at his high school, and went on to attend Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York. He wowed audiences at Manhattan's The Comic Strip, whose co-owners were sufficiently impressed by his talent to take on the task of managing his career. They got Murphy an audition for Saturday Night Live, and he was signed as a featured player. During his four years as a member of the "Not Ready for Prime Time Players," Murphy created such memorable characters as Velvet Jones, Mr. Robinson, and a grown-up Gumby.
A last-minute change of plans by the producers of 1982's 48 Hrs. provided Murphy with his break in feature films. Starring as a fast-talking street hustler opposite Nick Nolte's hardnosed cop, he proved himself a natural with great screen presence, and won acclaim from audiences and critics alike. He followed up the success of 48 Hrs. with Trading Places, in which he costarred with SNL alumnus Dan Ackroyd. But it was the 1984 blockbuster Beverly Hills Cop, the year's top film, that catapulted Murphy to superstardom. Playing the smooth, wise-cracking Detroit cop Axel Foley earned Murphy his third consecutive Golden Globe nomination. In 1987 he reprised the role in Beverly Hills Cop II, which became the biggest money-maker of that year and made Murphy Hollywood's #1 box office star. That same year, Murphy returned to the comedy stage in a nationwide tour that culminated in the release of Paramount's Raw, filmed during two concerts at Madison Square Garden. Earlier in the Eighties, Murphy released two comedy LPs, Eddie Murphy and Eddie Murphy: Comedian; the former earned the star two Grammy nominations while the latter won the 1984 Grammy for Best Comedy Album of the Year. Not content with success on stage and screen, Murphy also launched a musical career, recording "Party All The Time" with funk star Rick James.
Murphy's other '80s projects included 1988's successful Coming to America, in which he portrayed four of the characters, and his directorial debut with 1989's Harlem Nights, featuring his idols Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. (Murphy also produced, wrote and starred in the film.) His career slumped somewhat in the early 1990s, only to be resurrected with a highly successful remake of the Jerry Lewis classic, The Nutty Professor, in 1996. Since then, he has appeared in such hits as Dr. Doolittle (1998) and the animated classics Mulan (1998) and Shrek (2001). Currently residing in New Jersey with his wife Nicole and their children, Murphy has been involved in a variety of humanitarian causes and organizations, including the AIDS Foundation, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.

1980s Filmography
48 Hrs. (1982)
Trading Places (1983)
Eddie Murphy Delirious (1983)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Best Defense (1984)
The Golden Child (1986)
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Eddie Murphy Raw (1987)
Coming to America (1988)
Harlem Nights (1989)

 

Critics' Comments
48 Hrs. (1982)
"[T]his movie...will be remembered for the impressive feature debut of Eddie Murphy. He proved that he can be as ferociously funny a screen presence as any in movies."
-- People Weekly

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
"Dirtier and hotter than Harry, Eddie Murphy is also the funniest screen cop since the Keystones. From the moment he flashes his radiantly lewd grin, this comedy caper is off and running. Even when the plot misfires, Murphy comes out shooting from the funny bone -- and it's bull's-eyes all the way."
 -- People Weekly

The Golden Child (1986)
"The entire movie is tailored to Murphy, sodden with a sense that his every remark is hilarious, that his every smoldering look will have ushers shuttling back and forth with salts of ammonia to revive the women expiring in the aisles. The Golden Child is edited to Murphy's sloppy improvisational rhythms, so we watch him stumbling with his lines, searching for laughs he never finds."
-- Paul Attanasio, Washington Post

Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
"Eddie Murphy is not likable in this movie. He comes across as a loud, arrogant boor; a little of him goes a long way. Somehow they've lost track of their original appealing idea, which was that a smart, funny street cop from Detroit would waltz into Beverly Hills and deflate the Porsche-and-sunglasses set. Doesn't work that way this time."
-- Roger Ebert

Coming to America (1988)
"This role was designed to present a softer side of Murphy, but playing a convincing romantic lead may be beyond him at this point. In pursuing his queen -- a strong-willed young woman named Lisa (Shari Headley) -- Murphy is more businesslike than love-struck....Coming to America isn't as aggressively awful as the Cop films or The Golden Child, but at least in those films there was something to react to. In making Coming to America, Murphy seems to have set his sights on the lowest prize imaginable. He aspires to blandness."
 -- Hal Hinson, Washington Post

Judge Reinhold and Eddie Murphy in a scene
from Beverly Hills Cop.

Awards
1983 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Trading Places, 16th Annual NAACP Awards.
1989- Favorite Comedy Motion Picture Actor, Readers' Choice Awards.


Murphy turned down the role of Winston Zeddemore in the 1984 film Ghostbusters.
The lead role in Beverly Hills Cop was originally written with Sylvester Stallone in mind.
Murphy hosted the first ever MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.
Murphy was paid a whopping $20 million salary for his work in Nutty Professor II (2000) and also for 2001's Dr. Doolittle 2.