Charlie Murphy, the comedian, writer and older brother of Eddie Murphy, has died after a battle with leukemia.
He was 57.
The funnyman passed away Wednesday morning at a New York City hospital. According to multiple news sources, Murphy had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Family members say they’re absolutely shocked, because they thought he was getting better. The family would call him frequently, and he’d even joke they were calling too much, reports TMZ.
Shortly before his passing, Murphy sent out a series of tweets about his personal struggles and promised his fans that he would overcome his illness. These words turned out to be some of his last.
Murphy famously co-starred on “Chappelle’s Show” in some of Dave Chappelle’s most memorable skits … including the nights Charlie partied with Rick James and Prince.
He had a recurring segment on the Comedy Central series called “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” which featured him comically recalling his unfortunate interactions with major 1980s stars such as Prince and Rick James, when he was a member of his brother’s (Eddie Murphy) crew.
The Prince sketch is a fan favorite and detailed a pick-up basketball game where the pop icon (played by Chappelle) and his team beat Murphy’s. To soften the blow of defeat, Chappelle’s character graciously cooks breakfast for Murphy and his crew, serving them pancakes and grapes. Prince later revealed the game did in fact take place, telling MTV that “the whupping is true.”
The comic recalled mocking Prince’s shirt: “You know what we’re going to call this, the shirts against … the blouses.”
“And when I said that, this [fired-up] look came on his face and I’m looking back at him thinking to myself, ‘What are you angry about? I mean you know where you got that shirt from, and it damn sure wasn’t the men’s department.’”
As every ‘Chappelle’ fan knows, Murphy was extremely close to Prince and his death last year hit him hard.
“If I wanna put a soundtrack to my life, his music would represent [me] and the era of the 1980s,” Murphy explained. “He influenced so many people. He made androgyny popular. I once saw Jim Brown, the stoic hardbody football player, wearing a glitter jacket in the club.”
Charlie also co-wrote some of Eddie Murphy’s movies, like “Norbit” and “Vampire in Brooklyn.” He co-starred in “Are We There Yet?,” “The Boondocks” and “Black Jesus.” Charlie also had a part in Eddie’s 1989 film “Harlem Nights.” He is credited with appearances to air later this year on the TV drama series “Power.”
Murphy served in the United States Navy for six years before starting his career as a comedian. He recently toured with Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, George Lopez and D.L. Hughley on “The Comedy Get Down.”
Murphy’s wife, Tisha Taylor Murphy, died in 2009 from cervical cancer. They had two children, and he had another from a previous relationship.
He spoke about his wife’s cancer diagnosis in 2015 saying:
“I came home and she’s in the kids’ room, crying. That’s when she told me. Cervical cancer. You don’t really grasp it. When the person tells you they’re going to die, you go crazy. You become a different person from the moment you hear those words.
“A young woman like that—don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t do drugs. I know people that’s 90 and who do all of that. She’s a very organized woman. When she died, all the arrangements had been made. She made her own arrangements.”
Many of Charlie’s friends and fellow comics and comedy writers have expressed their condolences via Twitter.
“Terribly saddened … Charlie,” wrote Paul Mooney, writing partner of famed late comedian Richard Pryor, who starred with Charlie on Chappelle’s show and has also worked with Eddie in the past.
“Just came out of meditation and learned that one of my friends and my biggest comedy idol passed,” Russell Simmons tweeted. “Damn I loved Charlie Murphy.”
“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time,” Chris Rock wrote. “Charlie Murphy RIP.”