Comedian Charlie Murphy – the older brother of actor Eddie Murphy – has died at the age of 57 following a battle with leukemia.
The New York City born comic and actor starred on Chappelle’s Show, Are We There Yet? and lent his voice to the animated series The Boondocks.
More recently he starred as Marshal Williams in the TV series Power.
He also has writing credits for Paper Soldiers, Vampire in Brooklyn, and the screenplay Norbit.
He is most celebrated for his work on Chappelle’s show in the early 2000s and inspired the comedian’s now infamous Prince impression.
Murphy used his own stories of meeting the rich and famous, through the height of brother Eddie’s career, to inspire sketches on the show.
He told how Prince played basketball with Murphy and was incredible – the music superstar then went on to make everyone pancakes after the game – a scene Chappelle famously reenacts, pretending to be the Purple Rain singer.
The Murphy brothers were both born in Brooklyn and raised in Long Island. Their mother was a telephone operator and their father a police officer.
The elder Murphy was a ‘street kid’ – and robbed a driver at gunpoint as a teen. After a string of other minor crimes he was sentenced to ten months in prison before joining the Navy for six years from 1978.
‘My mother basically took me to the Navy. After I did a stint in jail, she took me to the recruiting offices — we went to the Army, the Marines, Air Force, and they all turned me down because of my record. Finally, my mother said you gotta take my son or he’s going to be killed out here,’ he told the Commercial Appeal.
He described the stint as ‘life-altering’ and returned to America to find his brother en route to becoming comedy’s biggest star.
The New York City born comic and actor starred on Chappelle’s Show.
Mourning: Charlie leaves three children including two from his marriage to Tisha Taylor who also died in 2009 from cancer
He joined him in showbusiness – first behind the scenes as a bodyguard. However, he soon had to give that up for being ‘overzealous’ and too protective of his younger sibling.
‘It was to the point that, if I went to a show and you were the hater in the audience that was like, ‘That sh** wasn’t funny’ POW! I’m jamming you, man,’ Murphy said.
‘Because the sh** was funny. There was 10,000 people laughing, and you that one joker that wanna try and squeeze a lemon. F— you. I don’t even want you to be there. And I took it as a personal crusade, and they were like, ‘You know what, you’re a little overzealous with your job.’ So, that is how I ended up not doing that anymore.’
He then turned to screenwriting, acting and even a turn at songwriting – proving that the entertainer gene ran through the entire Murphy family.
Comedians and fans took to Twitter to pay tribute to the star.
Chris Rock wrote alongside a photo of the the star: ‘We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time . Charlie Murphy RIP.’
The actors both appeared in the 1993 comedy CB4.
‘He took a chance on a young director in The Player’s Club,’ Ice Cube said about the 1988 comedy he wrote and directed which starred Murphy.
‘Always made me laugh.’
‘One to Sleep On’: Just hours before Charlie’s death emerged, the actor’s own Twitter account sent a message, dated on April 11
‘Charlie Murphy RIP’: Chris Rock paid tribute to his CB4 co-star
Family man: D.L. Hughley remembered the star on Twitter
D.L. Hughley tweeted, ‘After every gig, he rushed home to be with his kids. He died with gigs on the books. #RIP #mybrotha #charliemurphy #CGD.’
Just hours before Charlie’s death emerged, the actor’s own Twitter account sent a message, dated on April 11.
‘One to Sleep On: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible,’ the tweet read.
Charlie had been undergoing chemotherapy for his illness.
His family were allegedly stunned by the news as they thought he was recovering, according to the New York Daily News.
He had three children, including two with wife Tisha Taylor, who passed away following a battle with cancer in 2009.
They married in 1997.