If you take the time to think about some of the funniest comedians that the world has been lucky enough to witness, numerous names come to mind. Richard Pryor for the older generation and today, we have Kevin Hart. One mustn’t forget about Eddie Murphy, however. Then there was Eddie’s hilarious brother, Charlie Murphy. From movies and TV shows to stand-ups, Charlie would have fans clutching their stomachs as they laughed with smiles from ear to ear. On April 13, 2017, Charlie passed away due to his battle with leukemia. Here is a look back on his stellar career and how the rest of Hollywood, including his brother, has taken it.
Charlie And Eddie
Some of the greatest stories begin with a troubled childhood and individuals fighting against the odds to persevere to success. That is exactly how it played out for the Murphy brothers even though their fame would come at different levels.
Before diving into his rough upbringings, let’s see what was Charlie’s highest point in his lustrous career.
The Chappelle Show
“What did the five fingers say to the face?” said Rick James. Slap! Rick James slapped Charlie Murphy for no reason according to Murphy while the two were partying at the same club one night. Murphy told the story on an edition of Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories, a segment as part of Chappelle’s Show.
The stories that he told were so funny and ridiculous that it was hard for people to believe but Murphy shed light for those who doubted his stories. A run-in with Rick James wasn’t the only wild story he had to share. There was also the time he played basketball with the late great Prince.
Let’s recap some of these moments that happened in real life and were turned into skits on Chappelle’s Show.
Rick James Messes With Charlie
According to Charlie, his brother, Eddie had taken him to the club Studio 54. In only a matter of seconds after they arrived, Charlie says he heard Rick James scream “Charlie Murphy!” as he appeared out of nowhere and punched him square in the forehead. While everyone was laughing James sang the phrase, “that was cold blooded!”
After playing it cool at the club, Murphy waited for James to head back to his hotel where he would get his revenge. Upon walking into James’ hotel room, James cocked his fist back ready for another punch but Murphy swiftly retaliated with a spartan kick to his chest.
That wouldn’t be the last altercation between the two.
Rick James Takes It Too Far
After the Studio 54 incident, Charlie Murphy thought the troubles would be over. He was wrong. Rick James came over to Eddie Murphy’s home with dirty cowboy boots and proceeded to do something unforgivable. Eddie had brand new suede couches but James didn’t care, he laid down on the couches and started grinding and stomping his dirty boots on the couch!
While he is doing that, he is looking both Charlie and Eddie in the eye while screaming “[expletive] yo couch!” Charlie has had enough at this point and orders his friends to beat down James until he can’t feel his legs anymore. James said he did it because “Eddie could easily buy another one.”
Now relive the hilarious tale between Charlie and Prince.
Prince And Charlie Meet
If you thought the Rick James stories were bizarre then these interactions Charlie had with Prince are sure to have to laugh your socks off. Once again, Charlie was at the club and Prince comes in dressed in something Charlie describes as “something a figure skater would wear.” Prince approaches Eddie Murphy and asks if he would like to come over to his house and tell him to bring his crew.
Eddie, Charlie and the rest of his crew arrive at Prince’s home and they start to listen to his music. What followed after that is still highly debatable but you can be the judge for yourself.
Shirts Versus Blouses
Bored with simply listening to music, Prince challenges Charlie and his crew to a game of basketball. Charlie can’t believe that Prince had the audacity to challenge him and succumbs to hysterical laughter. Prince was serious and got them a change of clothes to play in.
Charlie and his crew were destroyed by Prince and his team. When they first walked onto the court, Charlie saw that they were still in the same clothes they were wearing at the club and said, “why don’t we call this the shirts against the blouses?” Little did he know that Prince came ready to ball. For game-winning point, Prince performed a reverse slam and as he hung from the rim he said, “game, blouses.”
After the debacle of a game that Charlie Murphy said wasn’t even close, Prince took everyone back to the house and served them pancakes. Charlie was forced to be humble because of the humiliating loss. He congratulated Prince on the victory and told him he had a good game but all Prince could say was “I wish I could say the same for you,” then offered everyone grapes.
We know what you are thinking. There is no way these stories are true. How did prince get so impeccable good at basketball and why would Rick James ruthlessly punch Charlie in the head the first time he meets him?
Here comes the proof.
Straight From The Source
As you can see in the picture above, there is visual evidence of Prince when he used to play basketball in school as well as Rick James and Charlie Murphy embracing each other. Now that we know that Prince had at least some sort of practice in his life it makes it a tad more believable that he dismantled Charlie.
In an article from the New York Daily News, writer Don Kaplan had the opportunity to speak with Charlie about these stories. “I swear it’s true,” Charlie told Kaplan years later. “I swear every word of it is true.”
These famous stories are what helped Charlie boost his fame, but let’s head back to the beginning.
Growing Up For Charlie
As we alluded to earlier, Charlie’s childhood was not roses and dandelions, in fact, it was anything but. When he and his brother were young, his parents got a divorce and they ended up living with their mother, Lillian. He was born and raised in New York and one bad thing after another happened to both of his parents.
For starters, after the divorce, his mother became very ill so he and Eddie were forced to live in foster care for one year. After she recovered, Lillian remarried a man named Vernon Lynch and the newlyweds raised the comedic brothers together.
His Father’s Murder
In an interview with younger brother Eddie, he revealed how his father was killed. Before we continue, be warned that it is tragic as well as graphic. It can also serve as a lesson of trust.
“He was a victim of the Murphy charm chuckles,” Eddie said. “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, then no one else will’ kind of deal.” He went on to elaborate on how you can’t trust women and how both Eddie and Charlie were really messed up about their fathers’ death.
Charlie Goes To Jail
Having to deal with all of those problems as you grow up can take a toll on you, especially in your adolescence. It apparently caught up with young Charlie and he ended up serving time in jail.
“I was charged as a youthful offender on my first offense and handed three years probation,” said Charlie. “In the third year, I was arrested for petit larceny, loitering, and a few other misdemeanors. Taken all together, the crimes were a violation of my probation. I was sentenced to serve out the remainder of my probation in Nassau County Jail. I was going away for ten months.”
Charlie Enrolls To Serve The Country
After prison, any caring mother would try anything to ensure that their child would stay out of prison and trouble in life. Lillian did just that when she took Charlie to the Navy in 1978, she wanted her child to stay out the streets.
“My mother basically took me to the Navy,” Charlie said. “After I did a stint in jail, she took me to the recruiting offices — we went to the Army, the Marines, Air Force, and they all turned me down because of my record. Finally, my mother said you gotta take my son or he’s going to be killed out here.”
He would serve six years in the Navy but while he was in, things would change that he was unaware of.
Eddie Gets Big As Charlie Is Away
While Charlie was away in the Navy, he was really growing as a person and experiencing things he had never got the chance to while growing up in New York. “It changed me and helped shape the type of man that I am,” said Murphy. During this phase, he was also unaware of his baby brother’s fame accruing.
“I really had no idea what was going on when I was in the Navy,” said Murphy. “I knew he was out doing stand-up and he was working. But the fame that he had didn’t really hit me until I got out and got around. It was like wow.”
Various Paths Before Stand Up Comedy
As he saw his brother as this whole new celebrity once getting out of the Navy, Charlie started to make business moves on his own. “The reality is this: My brother knew what he wanted to be when he was 5, 6 years old,” said Murphy. “He knew from the beginning. I didn’t have that direction. The bug didn’t hit me until a lot later. So I was coming of age later.”
Charlie was a screenwriter and was a part of a hip-hop group. He got roles in different films but nothing too big. His most memorable role was in CB4 when he played the villain MC Gusto (pictured above). His breakout didn’t come until 2004 when he got to work on the Chappelle show.
Up next for Charlie, comedy.
Stand-Up Life For Charlie
Charlie Murphy didn’t get into stand-up until later in his career which is not the norm for stand-up comedians, especially those who have a little brother who got rich and famous from it. “When I first started doing comedy, I was 42 years old and I was the brother of one of the most celebrated comics in history who made his name in the game 20 years earlier,” he said. “So, that took a lot of bravery. It’s never been done before.”
“I love doing it all,” says Murphy of his various pursuits,” said Murphy. “Writing fuels the stand-up, stand-up fuels acting and acting fuels the stand-up.” Not everyone arrives at their destination at the same amount of time so all that matters is that he made it there and he was highly successful doing it.
Battle With Leukemia
In New York City on Wednesday, April 14, 2017, Charlie Murphy was pronounced dead. His manager said that the leukemia is what ultimately killed him. He was getting treated with chemotherapy but that would not be enough to save the comedian.
Family members were as shocked as anyone as they revealed they would make calls to him while he was in the hospital and he would even joke while on the phone with. Not too soon before his death, he tweeted out, “One to Sleep on: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible.”
Read next how celebrities reacted to his passing.
What Charlie’s Famous Friends Said After His Death
Charlie Murphy brought joy to many people’s lives with his jokes and his presence. See what some celebrities had to say about him.
“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time. Charlie Murphy RIP.” – Chris Rock“Charlie Murphy was a great man. God bless, we already miss you.” – Chance the Rapper“Charlie Murphy was such a kind, sweet, funny man. Damn. Incredible talent, even better man. RIP.” – Gabrielle Union“You made us smile. You brought lots of joy to the world and made life easier for millions. Rest in paradise big homie.” – LL Cool J“My respect to his family. I’m thinking of all of you. He was the sweetest guy to see and talk to, and we’re all going to miss him very much.” – Adam Sandler
Those were the stars; how did family react? Read on to hear more about his family and his wife’s tragic story.
Charlie leaves behind three children. His wife, unfortunately, passed away in 2009 of cervical cancer. Judging by what everyone has had to say about Charlie, his kids are no question going to miss him. They now have no father or mother in their life but we are sure they will be taken care of. The family released a statement.
“Thank you for the outpouring of condolences and prayers,” the family said. “We respectfully ask for privacy during this time of great loss for all of us.” It may take a little extra time to get over this seeing how much joy he brought to everyone’s life.
Eddie Speaks Highly Of Charlie
Eddie Murphy had found out that his brother, Charlie, was the top result in Google when Eddie Murphy impressions is searched. He said that Charlie is his best impression.
“Charlie is actually my best impression,” Eddie revealed. “I’ve been doing him since I was two or three. He was my first impression,” Eddie added. “I wish he would get famous because people could see this great impression that I do.” As you can see, Eddie has been doing this since he was young and it is great to know that his brother was such a help to his career.
What does Eddie have to say about this tragic death?
Statement From Brother, Eddie
There is no question that the two Murphy brothers were close. After all that they went through as kids when they were growing up and the success they shared later in their lives is something Eddie can’t forget and won’t forget easily even if he tried. Eddie Murphy recently released a statement.
“Our hearts are heavy with the loss today of our son, brother, father, uncle and friend Charlie,” he said in a statement to Variety. “Charlie filled our family with love and laughter and there won’t be a day that goes by that his presence will not be missed.”