Comedian Charlie Murphy, the equally-hilarious brother of funny man Eddie Murphy and a featured player on all three seasons of Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, is now dead at the age of 57.
Entertainment publication TMZ was among the first to report on the actor’s passing, which apparently occurred early Wednesday afternoon at a New York City-based medical facility following a leukemia battle. Charlie was said to be in the midst of chemotherapy treatments for the malady and according to family members, and seemingly on the way back to good health.
“[Charlie’s relative are] absolutely shocked,” TMZ mentions of Murphy being dead, “because they thought he was getting better. [We] we’re told the family would call him [so] frequently, [he would] joke [that] they were calling too much,” the report goes on to add.
First gaining notoriety in the 80s and early 90s as a stand-up comedian and a close companion of Eddie’s as he ascended to comedy greatness, Charlie went on to stem his own landmark-making career as a comedic actor with major appearances on Saturday Night Live with Eddie, Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues and Harlem Nights, the 1989 blacksploitation-nodded comedy that was headed by his movie star brother and fellow legendary comedian, Redd Foxx.
Despite the numerous assists from Eddie, however, Charlie always ascertained that his comedic talent was solely his own.
“I’m not in his shadow,” Charlie explained to Metro in 2012.
“A lot of other comedians have cast their shadow since Eddie Murphy. There are people who will compare us but look at his last DVD, he was a kid, I’m a grown adult with kids myself. I’ve got a whole different approach. I’m not [like] La Toya Jackson, [in the sense that] she became known for talking about her family to get an audience. I don’t need to do that. I have real jokes.”
Additionally, his memorable gravely tone also allowed him to gain fame as a successful voice actor on The Boondocks, where he portrayed Ed Wuncler III, the Caucasian nephew of the mayor of the fictional city of Woodcrest, Ed Wuncler Sr. (played by Ed Asner), and the Cartoon Network’s Black Dynamite, for two episodes in 2012 and 2014, as well as a handful of video games and other animated series.
Quite arguably, however, Murphy’s biggest fame-making moment came by way of a Season 2 episode of the now-defunct Chappelle’s Show, when he farcically recalled a number of interactions with late R&B star Rick James in a spoof of E!’s True Hollywood Stories, aptly entitled Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories, which saw Chappelle portraying a younger version the late “Super Freak” star — James also appeared to share his side of the “story” — and Charlie playing himself.
A latter episode from that same season season featured another hysterical anecdote from his past involving a basketball match between Charlie Murphy and the diminutive, now-dead singer Prince, that ended with the gender-bending Purple Rain performer, played by Chappelle, besting Charlie and his group of friends in the game, before consoling them with a hearty platter of pancakes, and a little bit of trash talking.
Prince was purportedly so moved by the visual memory, he went on to use Chappelle’s likeness of himself on the cover art for his 2014 single, “Breakfast Can Wait,” in a nod that Esquire writer Matt Miller believes further solidified both Dave and Charlie Murphy’s names as comedy legends.
“[The Prince and Rick James’ sketches have] become some of Chappelle and Murphy’s most memorable work,” Miller expressed of, “remaining in the popular comedy lexicon for more than a decade.
Charlie was last romantically attached to Tisha Martin Murphy, his wife from 1997 to 2009, before she succumbed to cancer, and leaves behind three children, including one from a previous relationship.
[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]