Eddie Murphy has been a beloved comedian and actor for over 40 years. He is well-known for his roles in movies like Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, and his popular voice role as Donkey in the Shrek franchise.
But what is it about Eddie Murphy that makes him so adored and praised by fans and critics alike? Here are some of the key reasons why people love Eddie Murphy.
Humble Beginnings and Early Success
Eddie Murphy grew up in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His father died when Eddie was young and his mother raised him and his brother Charlie. While life was not easy, Eddie kept his neighbors laughing with his sense of humor and witty jokes.
As a teenager, he started doing stand-up comedy routines heavily influenced by Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor.
His comedy career skyrocketed when he joined Saturday Night Live at the age of 19, becoming one of the show’s most beloved cast members. His early success from humble beginnings is an inspiration and part of why people adore Eddie today.
Goofy and Outrageous Persona
Whether on stage or on screen, Eddie Murphy has a goofy, edgy, and outrageous persona that audiences love. Some of his most iconic characters like Buckwheat, Gumby, and Little Richard Simmons had people rolling on the floor laughing.
He brought an animated and edgy energy to his roles that felt both dangerous and lovable at the same time. Off-screen he maintained a confident swagger and cocky sense of humor which has made him a fan favorite.
People love that he pushed comedic boundaries and was not afraid to be ridiculous in his pursuits of laughter.
Range as an Artist
While known for his comedic roles, Eddie Murphy has demonstrated immense range and depth as an actor in both comedy and drama. His performance as James “Thunder” Early in the musical drama Dreamgirls earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination in 2007.
His role in the 1989 romantic comedy Harlem Nights alongside stars like Richard Pryor also demonstrated his acting range beyond just comedy. And his leading role as the streetwise detective Axel Foley in the Beverly Hills Cop franchise cemented his status as a comedic action star legend.
His versatility and ability to make audiences laugh, cry, and feel all sorts of emotions is a testament to his skills.
Why Has Eddie Murphy Endured Over Decades?
Over four decades into his career, Eddie Murphy remains a beloved icon. What is it about him that has enabled such impressive staying power in Hollywood? There are a few keys reasons.
Working and Evolving His Craft
Unlike some comedians who burn out or become one-trick ponies, Eddie Murphy has continued to work and evolve his comedy and acting over the decades. He has starred in a movie nearly every single year from 1980 to today.
His stand-up specials like Eddie Murphy: Delirious revolutionized rawness in comedy. And every few years he seems to reinvent himself whether in family films like Mulan and Daddy Day Care or returning to grittier adult roles like in Netflix’s Dolemite Is My Name. His relentless work ethic and continuous expansion of his talent has enabled such remarkable longevity.
From young kids who love Donkey in Shrek to adults who grew up idolizing Axel Foley, Eddie Murphy strangely has intergenerational appeal. His films seem to delight audiences young and old alike.
He also has worked hard to remain relevant including engaging on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. This cross-age fan base has secured Eddie Murphy a spot in the hearts of generation after generation of fans around the world. No other 80s comedian can really say the same.
Strong Sense of Gratitude
Despite his early fame and decades of success, Eddie Murphy has retained a humble and grateful spirit. He still praises legends who came before him like Pryor and Cosby even reckoning them in his 2019 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor award speech.
And he always gives thanks to fans who made his improbable journey possible coming out of Bushwick as a kid. People love that he has not let Hollywood unravel his sense of who he is or dilute his hardscrabble roots and thus still feels like a down-to-Earth guy you could share a laugh with.
How Has He Influenced Other Celebrities and Culture Over Time?
The mark of a legend is in how they influence others and culture. And over four decades, Eddie Murphy has had an indelible impact on many other actors, comedians, and aspects of society at large like language. Here are some of his key influences on culture.
Inspiration for Black Comedians and Actors
Eddie Murphy’s breakthroughs opened doors for generations of black comedians and actors. He was among the first Black performers to get prominent airtime on a TV institution like Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s paving the way for talent after him.
His unapologetically edgy humor made executives recognize the broad appeal his style of comedy had among American audiences. And his major box office clout through hits like the Nutty Professor franchise made him a force in Hollywood that opened up opportunities for Black artists behind and in front of the cameras.
Stars like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Kevin Hart publicly praise Murphy’s influence and importance on their own careers.
Shaping Family Comedy Films
Few comedians have successfully pivoted into the lucrative and challenging family comedy movie genre like Murphy. His films like Mulan, Dr. Dolittle, and Daddy Day Care have inspired many other actors to try roles in high-grossing kid and parent films.
Murphy also demonstrated that its possible to balance adult comedy with family films. His impact on the genre has shaped many live action/animated hybrid films made today by parent companies like Disney.
Contribution to Pop Culture Language
From popularizing African American vernacular to his famous catchphrases, Murphy has even contributed to popular language and dialogue. References to his characters pervade society with phrases like “I’m Rick James bitch!” entering pop culture lexicon.
And words like “Booya!” resonate with younger generations despite originating back from Murphy’s 1970-80s stand-up routines not least because of Murphy keeping them alive. This linguistic influence demonstrates how ingrained Murphy’s unique style of comedy has become in culture.
Eddie Murphy’s Funniest Characters and Sketches of All Time
A major source of Eddie Murphy’s popularity and acclaim comes from his invention and performance in numerous iconic and hilarious characters and sketches over the decades. While it is hard to pick just a few favorites, these represent some of his absolute funniest and most beloved characters.
Mr. Robinson (Saturday Night Live)
Perhaps most famously known for his “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” parody sketches of Mr. Rogers on SNL, Eddie Murphy brought the sketch series new heights through the early 1980s.
His subversive yet lovable Mr. Robinson character offered poignant commentary on race and inequality using humor which felt revolutionary. Yet ultimately his flaws made him relatable too which is why the character worked so well and became such a staple of Murphy’s catalogue.
Donkey (Shrek Movies)
As the fast-talking Donkey sidekick to Shrek in the hugely popular animated franchise, Eddie Murphy entertained kids and parents alike. Donkey became an instant classic mixing sass, sarcasm, wit, and charm that only Murphy could bring to life so exceptionally.
He won new legions of young fans which further cemented his enduring celebrity long past his early fame peaks. Multiple generations now have Donkey as their favorite Eddie Murphy character.
Buckwheat (Saturday Night Live)
Another iconic SNL persona epitomized Eddie Murphy’s ability to poke fun using caricatures without being meanspirited.
His version of the classic Little Rascals character brought the laughs with his purposely inaccurate recap of historical events such as the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy. This absurd revisionist history made millions crack up routinely thanks to Murphy’s wacky yet authentic embodiment of Buckwheat.
Table 1: Highest Grossing Eddie Murphy Films
|Box Office Revenue
|Shrek the Third
|Shrek Forever After
|Beverly Hills Cop
|Coming to America
Over four decades into his remarkable career, Eddie Murphy remains one of the most beloved, influential, and important comedic actors of our times. His humble beginnings combined with his early meteoric rise demonstrated the power of perseverance and hard work.
His goofy, edgy, and outrageous characters made him an instant icon and pioneer in observational comedy. His range from comedy to drama has demonstrated immense skill securing his status as a legend.
After all these years, Murphy has retained a sense of gratitude, work ethic, and ability to connect with fans from young kids to older generations.
This has enabled his longevity and cemented his enduring influence on culture from comedy to film to language itself. While impossible to narrow down, characters like Mr. Robinson, Donkey, and Buckwheat represent the funniest heights of Murphy’s genius.
As he enters the sixth decade of his career, Murphy remains as vibrant, busy, and beloved as ever before. And that is why people of all ages and backgrounds around the world will always adore the one and only Eddie Murphy.
His cultural impact will certainly live forever even long after he retires from show business. But for now fans await what next act this comedic superstar decides to surprise them with in the years ahead.
Frequently Asked Questions about Eddie Murphy
Why is Eddie Murphy such a legendary comedian?
Eddie Murphy is considered one of the most legendary comedians of all time for breaking color barriers in Hollywood, pioneering raw observational humor about race, influencing generations of Black artists, starring in numerous iconic comedic films grossing nearly $7 billion, and creating some of the most memorable sketch characters in history from Saturday Night Live, movies, and standup.
What is Eddie Murphy best known for?
Eddie Murphy is best known for his groundbreaking, raw observational comedy, memorable Saturday Night Live sketch characters he created, and leading roles in blockbuster comedy films like Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Coming to America, and the voice of Donkey in the Shrek film series.
Why did Eddie Murphy’s career decline in the 1990s-2000s?
While he had ruled the box office through the 1980s-90s with hits like Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy’s career declined due to some poor film choices (like Pluto Nash which bombed badly), an exhaustion towards the raunchy comedy style that brought his initial acclaim, and a few flops hurt his standing temporarily.
But Murphy rebounded in force with acclaimed acting roles and returning to family-friendly comedies which rejuvenated his career.
How has Eddie Murphy influenced African American culture?
As one of the first wildly popular Black comedians and actors, Eddie Murphy paved the doors open and inspired generations of African American comedic talent like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Kevin Hart.
His frank discussion of race issues and elevation of urban styles of African American comedy played a major role inspiring more inclusion and spotlight on Black voices in Hollywood.