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The true roots of comedy go back, practically, as far as the dawn of literature itself. Since then, numerous stars of legend, from Don Rickles to Chris Farley, have come forth to shape the modern mold of the genre. Yet, few people are credited with having as much influence over the state of comedy than Eddie Murphy.
From singled-handedly saving Saturday Night Live barely out of his teens, changing the landscape of stand-up with hit live documentaries Delirious and Raw, and exhibiting a nearly incomparable talent of playing multiple characters at once, like in The Nutty Professor, the Academy Award nominee (for 2006’s Dreamgirls) is synonymous with some of the best comedy in the last 40 years. Having recently scored his sixth Golden Globe-nomination for Netflix’s Rudy Ray Moore biopic Dolemite Is My Name and preparing the release of a sequel to his 1988 classic Coming to America, Eddie Murphy seems to be shaping up for a much anticipated comeback.
In honor of the impending “Reddiesance” (we’ll work on the name), instead of focusing on what makes Eddie Murphy a legend, why not take a dive into some of the lesser known areas of his life? These are seven fascinating bits of trivia about the inspirational comic actor.
Eddie Murphy Hosted Saturday Night Live While Still Part Of The Cast
After 35 years, and some infamous ribbing from one David Spade, Eddie Murphy returned to the show that made him a household name (in exchange for rescuing it from obscurity) in 2019 for his third time hosting Saturday Night Live. Yet, some modern audiences may not realize he already made history with his first hosting gig in 1982, during which he was still a cast member. As the story goes, Nick Nolte, Murphy's co-star from his hit film debut 48 Hrs. was slated to host that night, but fell ill, and no choice seemed better to fill in at the last minute than the show's hottest star at the time.
Eddie Murphy’s Trading Places Inspired A Real Stock Exchange Rule
A year after 48 Hrs., Eddie Murphy's winning streak continued with the film Trading Places, in which he and Dan Aykroyd's characters unwittingly become guinea pigs in a social experiment orchestrated by billionaires Randolph (Ralph Bellamy) and Mortimer Duke (Don Ameche). Among the brothers' other crooked actions in the John Landis film is the attempt to corner the stock market with insider trading, which would eventually inspire a rule banning this very action as part of the Wall Street Transparency and Accountability Act in 2010. In reference of the 1983 comedy's most promising star, the rule was named "the Eddie Murphy Rule."
Eddie Murphy Owned A Huge Collection of Elvis Memorabilia
Of his many influences (including Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx, and, the original Nutty Professor, Jerry Lewis), the one person you least expect Eddie Murphy to call his idol is Elvis Presley, although that does help explain his leather attire in Delirious and Raw. During his 2019 appearance with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show, Murphy confirmed that owned one of the world's largest collections of items related to the "King of Rock 'n Roll" when he was younger. While he no longer possesses much of that collection, he still cites himself as having a hunka hunka burning love for Elvis... you know, strictly as a fan, of course.
Eddie Murphy Was Offered A Star Trek Movie Role
In that same The Tonight Show appearance, Eddie Murphy discussed turning down hits like Ghostbusters (which led to Beverly Hills Cop) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (which led to regret). However, one potential role that he did not mention, and one of the more fascinating "what if's" of his career, was a part in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home as an astrophysicist who helps the Enterprise crew rescue a humpback whale stuck in the 1980s. Despite his admiration for the original sci-fi series, Murphy passed on the film to play the lead of 1986 fantasy comedy The Golden Child, which he would later describe to Rolling Stone as a "piece of shit."
Rick James Produced Eddie Murphy’s Biggest Hit Song
For his sole Academy Award-nominated performance in Dreamgirls, which many believe he deserved to win, Eddie Murphy played R&B musician James "Thunder" Early. While this may have seemed like a surprising turn of direction for the actor to some people, it was far from his first experience with music having released the 1985 hit single "Party All the Time," produced Rick James of "Super Freak" and, later, Chappelle's Show fame. As a singer, Murphy went on to release a total of three studio albums and even collaborate on a tracks with Michael Jackson, whose video for 1992 single "Remember the Time" also starred Murphy as an Egyptian pharaoh.
Shrek Earned Eddie Murphy The First BAFTA Nomination For A Voice Performance
Of course, how could you forget all the singing that Eddie Murphy performed as Donkey in Shrek, much to the chagrin of Mike Myers' titular ogre? The uproarious, family-friendly fantasy from Dreamworks made history for its remarkable commercial and critical success, winning the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and also earning a Murphy a nod from the British Academy of Film and Television Awards for his beloved supporting role. This was the first, and remains the only, instance of a purely vocal performance receiving a BAFTA nomination for acting.
Barack Obama Motivated Eddie Murphy To Return To Stand-Up
Fans of Eddie Murphy's stand-up comedy dating back to the early 1980s rejoiced at the announcement that he would be returning to the stage for the first time since 1987, along with the news of possible a Netflix special on the horizon. Apparently, we have Barack Obama to thank for it. While speaking to Stephen Colbert on Late Show about his his visit to the White House in 2015 after receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, Murphy mentioned (in his best impersonation of the former United States president) that one of the first things he asked him was, "When are you going to get back into stand-up?" leading him to eventually consider the possibility.