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By Sharee Silerio
Beloved comedian, actor, author, screenwriter and voice-over artist Charlie Murphy will be remembered as one of the greatest comics of the past two decades.
Murphy was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised by his mother, a telephone operator, and his stepdad. His father, Charles Edward Murphy, was a transit police officer and an amateur actor and comedian. He died when Charlie was a child.
Charlie got into trouble as a teen and spent almost a year in jail. When he was released, he enlisted in the United States Navy and serviced for 6 years.
Several years later, he married Tisha Taylor and they had two children. He has a total of three children, one from his first marriage. In 2008, Tisha, was diagnosed with cervical cancer and died the following year.
The older brother of Eddie Murphy, Charlie’s 20-plus year career included stand-up comedy tours, dozens of films, TV shows and collaborations with some of the best funny-men-and-women of our time.
His fame rose when he acted in and wrote for Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, his wildly popular sketch being “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories”, where he shared his real-life interactions with celebrities like Prince. One episode included Charlie recounting a night out at a club with Rick James portrayed by Dave Chappelle, who coined the phrase “I’m Rick James, b**ch!”
This recurring segment catapulted his career, making him an international star.
I always looked forward to his belly-aching, memorable moments, including his unique, raspy voice; and real, honest jokes.
Murphy’s film credits include Harlem Nights (his film debut), Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Our Family Wedding, King's Ransom, CB4, 2016’s Meet the Blacks; and collaborating with Eddie to write and star in the films Norbert and Vampire in Brooklyn.
He was featured in television shows like Martin and was a voice actor for animated television series such as The Boondocks and Black Jesus. He will also be featured on the upcoming season of the Starz drama Power.
Charlie worked with top Hollywood talent such as Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, Danny Aiello, Terrance Howard, Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, Vanessa Williams, Rip Torn, Peter Falk, Redd Fox, Angela Bassett, Wesley Snipes, Jamie Foxx, Samuel Jackson and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Last year, Murphy took part in the ongoing 4.5-star rated Comedy Get Down Tour with Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley, and George Lopez.
Charlie built his career by creating his own lane. He never allowed himself to get caught in the shadows of his brother’s accomplishments and fame, but used each opportunity he received to explore all of his gifts.
Charlie was a storyteller, not afraid to take chances, and he stayed true to himself.
His legacy of laughter in various forms – from film to television, animated shows and live on stage – demonstrates the power of embracing who you are and using it to fulfill your life’s purpose.
Rest in peace to a comedy icon who will be missed.