As 2019 was drawing to a close, something really huge was happening in the world of comedy.
After more than three and a half decades, Eddie Murphy was to make his Saturday Night Live return and millions of the comedian’s fans couldn’t wait.
It was thanks to this long-running comedy sketch show that Murphy became the household name he is today, and most people credit the man for SNL’s popularity in the 1980s.
Who doesn’t remember the iconic characters Murphy played? There was Gumby, Mister Robinson, Buckwheat, and so many others.
Gumby and Buckwheat’s Popularity
Gumby and Buckwheat were probably the most popular of these – Gumby’s catchphrase became the hallmark of the entire SNL show, while Buckwheat’s popularity even became sort of an issue for Eddie Murphy.
Whenever he’d meet his fans, they’d always ask for him to get into character and soon enough, it became too much. To this end, Murphy requested for Buckwheat’s on-show assassination, and SNL agreed to humor their star.
Born Edward Regan Murphy in 1961, the comedian’s childhood was no bed of roses. His parents broke up when he was three, and his dad passed on when he was just eight. The same year, his mom fell sick and the eight-year-old and his elder brother had to go into foster care.
Luckily, they were only in the system for a year, though this period would serve as the foundation for Murphy’s comedy career. He has admitted as much in numerous interviews, saying that he tapped into his sense of humor then.
However, the funny bone didn’t really develop until Murphy listened to Richard Pryor during his teenage years. He became obsessed with comedy and just like that, a young Eddie Murphy knew the path he wanted to follow in life.
In 1980, the 19-year-old joined SNL. For the show, Murphy couldn’t have come on board at a better time. They were facing a crisis especially with the departure of Lorne Michaels and with him all of SNL’s original stars.
Thankfully, Eddie Murphy was the missing piece of the puzzle SNL didn’t even know they needed. Between 1980 and 1984, the comedian would appear in 65 of the show’s episodes and rise to superstardom, with his characters going on to become classics.
While still on the sketch comedy show, Eddie Murphy ventured into acting. Kickstarting the comedian’s film career was 48 Hours, a movie released in 1982.
Murphy would go on to star in hit movies such as Trading Places, Coming to America, the Beverly Hills Cop film series, and Harlem Nights. And although the 1990s may not have been the best years for the comedian turned actor at the box office, he regained his status by starring in Mulan, Nutty Professor, Dreamgirls, and the Shrek franchise.
And although it was SNL that propelled Eddie Murphy to celebrity status, he earned his fortune after leaving the show. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the man is currently worth $200 million.
Worldwide, movies the actor has appeared in have made an estimated $6.7 billion. Since the late ’80s, Murphy has been among the highest-earning individuals in Hollywood, taking home at least $20 million per movie.
The 58-year-old will soon be swimming in more cash having signed a $70 million Netflix deal for a string of comedy specials.