Charlie Murphy had to make a difficult decision after the death of his wife in 2009 — that he would force himself to keep working and keep moving forward for the sake of his young children.
The death of the comedian on Wednesday has brought an outpouring of love and remembrances, but has also put the spotlight on his three children. Murphy left behind two young children with late wife Tisha Taylor along with one from a previous relationship.
Though he rose to fame in the 1980s and ’90s along with his brother, comedian Eddie Murphy, and later hit it big after appearances on Chappelle’s Show, Charlie Murphy could be somewhat guarded about his personal life. In later interviews, Charlie Murphy would say that his wife’s 2009 death from cervical cancer left him devastated, but determined to keep working to support his three children.
“You’re never really okay, you just learn to live with it,” Charlie Murphy told Vibe in 2010 (via Movie Pilot). “That’s something monumental, losing somebody that close in your life. It happened to my children and me; you don’t get used to [it] and you don’t get over it.”
Charlie Murphy’s youngest daughter was just 3 when her mother died. The late comedian said in a 2011 interview that the loss was devastating to her.
“My daughter’s five years old, man. She asks for her mother every day,” he told Esquire.
Charlie Murphy remained busy even in his final years, appearing in movies and as a voice actor and still going on comedy tours. As he explained in an interview with AV Club, stopping his work simply wasn’t an option.
“I live like a shark,” Murphy said. “I got to keep moving, or I’ll suffocate.”
Throwing himself into his work was not just for the sake of his children. For Murphy, his stand-up act was almost therapeutic, both for him and the audience members. Murphy said being on stage allowed him to open up more, giving them more than just comedy.
“If you come to see my show, you’re going to go through a series of emotions, as well as laugh. That’s why I call it a show. It’s not one-dimension. Human beings are not one-dimension. You’re way more than your name. You’re way more than the way you look. You’re way more than even your political views or your religious views. All those things combined is what makes you a human being. I’m not going to be one dimension. I’m not going to allow you to put me in a box or to make me behave like somebody else. I’m giving you me.”
While he was known largely for his connection to his brother, Charlie Murphy’s love for his children stood out to those around him. Sade Oyinade, a producer of the television series Unsung Hollywood, conducted a five-hour interview with the comedian for the series.
Murphy’s own struggles with the fame of his younger sibling were apparent, Oyinade told the Los Angeles Daily News.
“He was very transparent. He was very open,” Oyinade said. “He definitely sometimes had a chip on his shoulder because people haven’t given him the credit that he deserved… people sometimes dismissed him as ‘oh, he’s just Eddie Murphy’s brother.’ But he put a lot of time and work to get where he was and he wanted to get that story across.”
Oyinade accompanied Murphy on a tour of the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up, and said Murphy shared many stories about his own children.
“He was a devoted father,” Oyinade said.
That was a common theme with others who remembered the comedian after his death on Wednesday, with many others noting how much Charlie Murphy loved his children.
[Featured Image by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP Images]