4/3/1961 (58 years old) Brooklyn, New York, United States
A comedy wunderkind who launched his stand-up career at age 15 and landed a spot on Saturday Night Live four years later in 1980, Eddie Murphy has enjoyed a roller-coaster career with remarkable highs and lows. Audiences were treated to his comedic genius, including his hilarious characters (Buckwheat, Mr. Robinson, a disgruntled Gumby) and uncanny impressions during his four-year tenure on SNL. He also made an auspicious film debut during that time as a foul-mouthed criminal in the buddy flick 48 Hrs., which led to his first Golden Globe nod. Murphy followed that hit with the John Landis directed crowd-pleaser Trading Places, but it was nothing compared to his next film, the outrageous Beverly Hills Cop, which made the Brooklyn-born comic a megastar at age 23. But just as it seemed Murphy could do no wrong he stumbled with the critically lambasted The Golden Child and the disappointing Beverly Hills Cop II. They failed to capture Murphy's inspired comedy which was better showcased in his appropriately titled Raw concert film of 1987. In an attempt to soften his image and deliver a commercial success, Murray reteamed with Landis for the 1988 comedy Coming to America and was rewarded with a box-office hit. But the next year in an egotistical frenzy, he wrote, directed, produced and starred in the bomb Harlem Nights opposite his longtime hero, Richard Pryor. In the early 1990s, Murphy's career continued to fizzle with inferior retreads (Another 48 Hrs., Beverly Hills Cop III) and insipid comedies (Boomerang, Vampire in Brooklyn). But in a stroke of genius he resuscitated his career in 1996 by starring in the family-friendly The Nutty Professor, which showcased his chameleon-like skills to portray multiple characters. Over the next several years the once king of profane comedy, despite a bizarre 1997 incident in which Murphy picked up a transsexual prostitute who was arrested in his car, managed to transform himself into the go-to guy for family laughs with the smash Shrek movies and a host of mostly PG-rated fare. There were occasional bombs (The Adventures of Pluto Nash being the most notorious) but Murphy survived them and his biggest triumph was still to come. He won a Golden Globe and received a much-deserved Oscar nomination for his dramatic turn in the 2006 musical Dreamgirls. Unfortunately, he didn't take home the hardware and his subsequent film appearances were lackluster. Murphy's private life also hit hard times with a 2005 divorce, a 2007 paternity suit by Melanie "Scary Spice" Brown in which she accurately claimed that Murphy was her daughter's father, and a two-week, never legalized, marriage to Tracey Edmonds in 2008. In 2010, the fourth Shrek film appeared and put Eddie Murphy back in the money.