R.I.P. Charlie Murphy (1959-2017)

Charlie Murphy, a Navy vet and comedian who broke out from his younger brother’s shadow by telling outrageously true stories on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, died today from leukemia. He was 57.

The last time I saw Charlie Murphy performing live was in October 2015, while he toured with The Black & Brown Comedy Get Down crew that also included George Lopez, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer. Murphy looked frailer then. His most recent messages to fans on Twitter carried inspirational tones under the headings “Rise & Grind” and “One to Sleep On,” and fittingly concluded with his own bid to rest in peace.

His tour mates praised him again today.


Charlie Murphy, born in Brooklyn on July 12, 1959, already had served time behind bars as a juvenile delinquent, then enlisted for six years of duty overseas with the U.S. Navy while his younger brother, Eddie Murphy, rocketed to superstardom as a comedian and actor.

When Charlie returned to civilian life in America in the mid-1980s, he caught the show business bug, too. Following his younger brother, Charlie caught bit parts in the films Harlem Nights, Mo’ Better Blues and Jungle Fever before shining in his own right by portraying Gusto in the movie CB4. He also executive-produced and wrote lyrics for the hip-hop group K-9 Posse.

But it’d be his co-starring turn on Dave Chappelle’s Chappelle’s Show on Comedy Central, where Murphy told True Hollywood Stories about Rick James, Prince and other superstars, where he made his most memorable comedy marks.


Here’s Charlie Murphy telling even more stories with Snoop Dogg in this video from 2013:

As a screenwriter, he’d shared writing credits with his brother on the films Vampire in Brooklyn and Norbit.

As he really began pushing his stand-up career forward in the wake of Chappelle’s Show, Murphy told me in 2007 that he owed a lot to clubs like Caroline’s On Broadway for giving him the chance to figure out his own comedy path. “I had no act. I had zero. They said we want you to find something about yourself. Do not try to be funny. Do not try to crack a joke. Just go up there and talk about things like you’d talk to us. All the funny stuff came later, the punchlines, the callbacks and all of that.”

In more recent years, he’d provided voiceovers for TV commercials and video games, put on a sketch comedy webseries on Crackle, made his own hour stand-up special in 2010 on Comedy Central, and played Vic on the Adult Swim series Black Jesus. This past year, he’d appeared in multiple episodes as a prison guard in the Starz series, Power.

Rest in Peace, Charlie Murphy.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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