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The Religious Affiliation of Actor, Comedian
Eddie Murphy

From: Jessica from Fredericksburg, "Artist Hero: Eddie Murphy" on MyHero.com website (http://myhero.com/myhero/hero.asp?hero=murphy_fredericksburg_05_ul; viewed 14 September 2005):
Everyone has a different view of a hero. For me, a hero never gives up. A hero works hard, is modest, forgiving, believes the faith of Christianity, has a good sense of humor, and cares for others. He seems to be an all around good person. Eddie Murphy is just such a person. He never gives up. He is a Baptist, hilarious, and cares for others...

One thing I look for in a hero is how big on religion he is. Though Eddie Murphy is not that big, he said that he goes to a Baptist church every once in awhile.

From: David Bruce, review of "Holy Man" (1998) on Hollywood Jesus website (http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/holy_man.htm; viewed 14 September 2005):
Eddie Murphy pulls out all the laugh stops and delivers another comedy home run with Touchstone Pictures "Holy Man." In this sharp-edged, high-octane comedic look at life, love, and television home shopping, Murphy is an inspirational televangelist who hilariously proves his message -- that, in today's world, shopping by television can be a religious experience. Only Eddie could so completely become this over-the-top marketing genius who takes a home shopping broadcasting company -- and the country -- by storm.

This seemed like a touchy subject and concept for Disney. But, as it turns out the evangelist is not portrayed as some sort of phony, and the film works.?I am optimistic about the film. The bottom line in the film is that money and commercialism are not the most important things in life.

One of the most exciting forms of worship is found in the African-American tradition. Every once in a while I [reviewer David Bruce] go to a "Missionary Baptist" or a "Church of God in Christ" church and enjoy a great gospel service featuring great hand clapping music, joyous dancing, and mesmerizing preaching. It is great stuff! And good for the soul, too. Eddy Murphey is no stranger to this kind of black church experience. The movie brings this enthusiastic style out...

[Joseph Schuetze wrote:] It took quite a while for me to form an opinion about Eddie Murphy's role [in Holy Man] but once I did my ideas held steady through out the film. Eddie seemed to be using this film as a soap box for his own religious feelings. The movie itself was awful. This includes the majority of Eddie's acting. His scenes seemed to be just one ad lib monologue after the next. While he was dressed in Buddhist garb and spoke of the Dahli Lama, the rest of his actions did not seem to be Buddhist specific. I could be wrong, but I have never heard of a Buddhist pilgrimage; and the majority of what he thought came from Jesus' teachings and from the book of Revelation. If anyone has info. on Eddie's religious preferences please share them. He sure seemed to be preaching from his mind and heart rather than acting from a strict script.

From: Frank Sanello, Eddie Murphy: The Life and Times of a Comic on the Edge, Carol Publishing Group: Secaucus, New Jersey (1997), page 20:
Murphy's public career prospered as mightily as his private life. By sixteen, he was headlining at comedy clubs up and down Long Island. His parents backed their boys... Before Eddie got his driver's license, Vernon [his father] would chauffeur him to gigs. When Lillian [his mother] attended a club for the first time, she was shocked by her fifteen-year-old's triple-X shtick. [Murphy's comedy routine was heavily laced with profanity, vulgarity and sexually explicit content.] Mom always insisted the expletives were a pose. Underneath the smut, he was just a nice boy from suburban Long Island. "That's not the real Eddie. He knows what people want to hear. It's his act. It wasn't as bad then as it is now," she said. Mrs. Lynch also refused to take any genetic credit for her son's talent. She dryly noted that her only influence on his material was to tell him to stop talking dirty.

Vernon backed his wife up. Eddie, he insisted, never used that kind of language at home. "He doesn't talk to me or anybody else in the family that way," Lynch said, perhaps with one eye on the door to the basement. In fact, New York magazine said that a horrified Lynch "kicked his son's ass" after catchiing Eddie's act for the first time.

Lillian was kinder. "Eddie is a firm believer in God and prayer. That's probably why he's so hot today," said his mother, sounding as though she had one eye on Variety. For all the raunch in his standup routine, offstage Murphy is apparently deeply religious. One Christmas, during a heart-to-heart with Vernon Jr., his brother dissed the value of prayer. Eddie was shocked and said, "You mean you don't pray every night? I do."

Sanello, pages 22-23:
By this time [age 16], Eddie's adoration of Elvis [Presley] had devolved into mere infatuation. Maybe it was the King's premature death that made Eddie decide a bloated, drug-habituated joke was not exactly the kind of person to pattern your career after. For whatever reason, Murphy adopted two very different comics as his new role models: the ultra-foul-mouthed Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby, the avatar of black respectability and achievement. Although at opposite ends of the humor and lifestyle spectrums, the two older men reflected Eddie's aspirations and inspirations. He explaind why such polar opposites guided him: "Pryor on an artistic level. Cosby on a moral level. Cosby was this cool guy and Pryor was brilliant. I wanted to combine the two. Be funny and have a clean life." Indeed, Murphy would out-profane Pryor's stand-up style, while avoiding his self-destructive behavior. Eddie wanted to burn brightly on stage, not self-immolate in his bedroom while sucking on a crack pipe. "As a teenager when I watched Richard Pryor for the first time, I realized what I was--a comedian. He paints pictures with words. He can tell you a story and you can see the whole thing. He was a genius," Eddie adds tellingly, using the past tense to describe the burned-out case his idol had become.

It's not going out on a limb to say that Cosby had no aesthetic influence on Murphy's comedy. The elder statesman of stand-up and sitcom told interminable shaggy dog stories about raising teenagers and placating the wife. Eddie's humor eisted in an alternate, scatalogical universe. Cosby had the credibility to make Jell-O seem delicious. Murphy was selling something else that couldn't even be mentioned on TV. The Cos served as a super-successful example of clean living, hard work, and clear goals, the very traits punched into Eddie at home [by his boxer step-father] in the basement. You can almmost imagine the young man visualizing the door tot he boxing ring downstairs when he explained why he always turned down cocaine. "I was afraid I might like it too much." The cross-addicted Pryor was his creative inspiration, but Murphy made it clear the comic was not his alter ego. When a psychodynamic-oriented reporter tried to draw parallels between the two men's upbringing, Murphy cust him off quickly. "Richard's had a tough life. He's been through a lot of sh-- I've never had to face." Like growing up in a whorehouse in Peoria, Pryor's childhood address. [Eddie Murphy had, for most of his childhood, an essentially middle class, two-parent upbringing.]

Eddie Murphy was sexually promiscuous from the time he was fifteen. From: Sanello, page 19:
Fifteen was a crucial year for Murphy in other ways... Nineteen seventy-six was also the year he lost his virginity. According to the usually circumspect Life magazine, Murphy was rehearsing the senior class talent show when "a girl in the twelfth grade came up to me, licked my ear, and said, 'It's time,'" according to the star. A year later, Murphy got a bittersweet sixteenth-birthday present, a sexually transmitted disease, which must have been especially hellish for the hygiene-obsessed youth. Murphy came clean in the pages of Playboy that he got a case of the crabs [veneral body lice] "from this bi--- when I ws sixteen."

It was the beginning of a love life Don Juan might have envied. His bedroom closet had dozens of girls' names and phone numbers scrawled on it. The indelibleness of the name suggested how indelible an impression the girl had made on the young Lothario--some names were recorded in pencil, others in pen... Eddie was a shameless self-promoter of his career and romantic life...

Sanello, page 46:
Be careful what you wish for; it may come true. Eddie Murphy had predicted he'd be famous by the time he was nineteen--he was. He predicted he'd be a millionaire by twenty-two. His prophecy was too conservative, since he entered the millionaire's club a year earler, courtesy of a grateful Paramount.

"I don't want to sound like some Zen Buddhist fool, but I think you do a lot to create your own reality," he said. His reality--wealth and fame--might be a wonderful fantasy to everyone else, but it left him frightened and confused.

Sanello, page 49:
The third season [of Saturday Night Live that Eddie Murphy appeared on]... Interviews from this period suggest his disenchantment with the show and his sudden movie fame didn't really represent ungrateful whining. An armchair psychologist, Murphy diagnosed his problem and even knew the clinical name for it, along with its pathological symptoms. For someone who had barely managed to graduate from high school, Murphy displayed an intimate knowledge of the ups and downs of the emotional roller coaster known as bipolar disorder: "The year 48 HRS. [in which he starred] hit and I was hot sh-- on the show [i.e., on Saturday Night Live], I was going crazy. It was happening too fast; my ego was all f---ed up. I'd go from being the happiest guy in the world to being depressed. I was manic-depressive."

...Another symptom of manic-depression, or bipolar disorder as it's now know, is excessive promiscuity. He admitted to that behavior...

Sanello, pages 87-88:
By 1984, his [Eddie Murphy's] stage act had become so blue [i.e., so vulgar and profane] that an even bigger black star was seeing red. America's favorite father and Ob-Gyn [the part he played on his popular sitcom], Bill Cosby, felt Murphy had pushed the envelope into the wastebin. In a telephone call that made international headlines, Cosby told Murphy to clean up his act. Murphy remained respectful on the phone. Cosby was a father figure to America, black and white, and Murphy had learned long ago to honor his stepfather--or else. But it seemed that as soon as he got of the phone, Murphy began talking back. He let the press convey his displeasure to Cosby rather than confronting him in person or on the phone. Murphy told his unasked-for mentor via Rolling Stone to buzz off. "Times are changing. Go to Vegas and do your old-man sh-- there. Bill Cosby called me up and said [imitating the Cos], 'You can't go onstage and say f--- you.' That was the most bizarre thing that's happened in my career. Bill Cosby calling me up--wow!--and reprimanding me for being too dirty."

Murphy was profane, but he wasn't blasphemous--a seemingly semantic difference, but not really. Just as he was shocked when his brother told him he didn't pray every night, Murphy shoed a respect for religion on and offstge that was reverential, bordering on the superstitious. As he drove past St. Patrick's cathedral in New York with a reporter, he suddenly pushed the eject button on his cassette deck which was playing a raunchy song by Prince. The lyrics were about to launch into a string of expletives, and Murphy explained, "It's a lot of profanity getting ready to come ont he stereo. Can't play it in front of a church.

"I'm not a religious fanatic, but I pray. I pray every night. And I respect the Church. I won't have Prince singing, 'I want to f--- you' in front of it."

Sanello, pages 89-90:
[Eddie Murphy] explained his philosophy: "My comedy is nonpolitical. I want to show that I give a damn, but comedy is the wrong thing to preach with. I don't think entertainers should be heroes or preachers. I'm not very political. I don't even vote. The way I see it, the president does what he wants to do, and if we do what we want, we don't have to be affected."

...Apolitical, but not obvlivious to current events when they provided comedy fodder. Following his nothing-is-sacred rule, Murphy dared to make papal assassination jokes shortly after the attack on [Pope] John Paul. When a member of the audience clapped after Murphy mentioned Reagan's run-in with John Hinckley [the would-be assassin], the comedian scolded the guy, then one-upped him by poking fun at the Pope. "And they shot the Pope. I mean, who would shoot the Pope? What's your intention in shooting the Pope unless you're saying, 'Look, I want to go to hell and I don't want to stand in line?' I mean, whoever shot the Pope, they'll say to him, 'You shot the Pope? Get in the express line, [expletive].'"

Sanello, pages 90-91:
[Eddie Murphy] wanted people to laugh, not form picket lines. Murphy wasn't uninformed; he was indifferent. A $15 million film deal buys a lot of complacency. He recognized raicsm in America, but when you're living more than the American dream, the American fantasy of super wealth and fame, it's hard to feel persecuted. As his star continued to rise, others didn't share his complacency and criticized it loudly... But like many middle class blacks of his generation, Muphy never felt the sting of racism growing up... In fact, Murphy never encountered a white racist until he was eighteen. LIke most of his take on reality, his view of the white world during his formative years came exclusively from television. "I thought all white people were like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver." By the time he went into the wide, white world with his self-image largely formed, out-and-out racism was an amusing oddity rather than a resonating experience... Richard Grenier wrote, "...Murphy, Cosby and Michael Jackson might be the first black superstars of post-racist America."
About Golden Child, the Buddhism-themed feature film starring Eddie Murphy. From: Sanello, pages 108-110:
Murphy automatically got the greenlight and carte blanche. At this point in his career, if the star had wanted to make an all-singing, all-dancing Busby Berkeley musical based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the greenlight would have been flashed quicker than you could say No. 1 at the box office eleven weeks in a row...

For his next project, Murphy left the mean streets of Detroit and charmeuse-covered showrooms of Rodeo Drive for . . . Tibet. Fortunately for nervous execs at Paramount, the film wasn't based on that country's bible of death [i.e., the Tibetan Book of the Dead]. In fact, The Golden Child wasn't risky, it was cautious and overtrodden Murphy terrain, thematically, if not geographically. The premise of the film, in fact, duplicated Beverly Hills Cop's fish-out-of-water high-concept...

Like his three previous hits [48 Hrs. (1982); Trading Places (1983); Beverly Hills Cop (1984)], The Golden Child was a hand-me-down, a Mel Gibson reject. ICM, which represented both stars, had developed the script for their white client and sold it to a producer who offered it to Paramount. Paramound never considered Murphy in the lead role until Gibson bowed out...

In the action-adventure comedy, the star plays a social worker called the Chosen One. Unwillingly, he has been chosen to rescue a Tibetan child living in L.A. who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer. The kid's a reincarnation of the Buddha, but the bad guy isn't religious. He wants the youngster because Buddha Jr. also possesses magical kinetic powers. But the stakes are higher than that. If the Golden Child isn't rescued by the Chosen One, the world will end. Thematically, the film was a promotion for Murphy. In previous films, he had cleaned up Beverly Hills and saved a young stockbroker's hide; here, Murphy was saving the world. [More about the filming and release of The Golden Child, pages 110-115.]

About Eddie Murphy's 18 March 1993 wedding to Nicole Mitchell, with whom he had five children before the couple filed for divorce. From: Sanello, pages 208-210:
The wedding itself reflected the dynamic between Eddie and Nicole. Murphy once quoted former friend Stallone's description of his relationships: "It's my way or the highway." Nicole wanted a private ceremony, but Murphy's wishes prevailed: he invited five hundred guests to the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel in New York. For once, their host, Donald Trummp, engaged in understatement when he called the gala "one of the most elegant, glamorous, and classiest weddings."

[page 210] ...Matrimony hadn't matured Murphy beyond recognition. He entered the ballroom wearing sunglasses and doing his cheeky impersonation of Stevie Wonder. The only concession to tradition was his tux. The music also wasn't traditional. "Don't Give Up on Love," a track from Love's Alright, replaced Mendelssohn's "Wedding March."

Murphy hadn't been speaking just for public consumption when he said on several occasions, "I just love the guy," referring to his stepfather... Murphy chose Vernon Lynch Sr., to be his best man.

The Reverend Calvin Butts of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church presided, although the ceremony was non-denominational. When Reverend Butts asked if anyone knew why Eddie and Nicole shouldn't be married, Murphy spun around and pretended to glare at the crowd. After the minister pronounced them husband and wife, Eddie kissed Nicole repeatedly... As they left the ballroom, Murphy picked up Bria [Eddie Murphy's daughter with Nicole] and escorted both the women in his life out.

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Webpage created 13 September 2005. Last modified 14 September 2005.
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