Thoughts on Charlie Murphy (1959-2017)
Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy's big brother and the storyteller behind the Chappelle’s Show iconic “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories”, passed away on Wednesday after battling leukemia. According to TMZ, even Murphy’s family were shocked by the news as they claimed that Murphy appeared to be doing better. I, for one, didn’t even know the man was ill.
In a weird and maybe ignorant way, I didn’t think Charlie Murphy could get sick. The same way he spoke about Rick James “having that aura”, I just got this sense from looking at his square jaw, solid build and hearing his menacing yet enthralling growl he used as a voice that Charlie Murphy was unfuckwittable. I'm well aware that it's not a word.
The Rick James and Prince “True Hollywood Stories” have been talked about and celebrated plenty since they first aired, so I won’t spend any more time on them, even if it would be deserved. For whatever reason, though, when I thought about Charlie Murphy, I thought about the smaller moments, unrelated to his Hollywood stories.
For example, when he played Gusto in Chris Rock’s CB4 (I swear man, how he says the word “bitch” rivals with the way Jesse Pinkman says it); his seminal voice-over work as Ed Wuncler III in The Boondocks (I’ll never forget and will always love the way he delivered Ed's line, "I send that bitch a smiley face. Bitches love smiley faces.”); his brother Eddie recalling of how Charlie felt about a woman from their childhood.
I never watched Charlie Murphy's stand up routine and I don’t need to since he’s already one of the funniest people I’ve ever heard or have had the pleasure of watching. Speaking of pleasure, in this video included in the Chappelle’s Show Season 2 DVD extras, Charlie expressed the happiness and pride he felt regarding Eddie’s success.
His brotherly love ran deep, all the way from when he would fight neighborhood kids who tried to bully Eddie to where Charlie was the head of Eddie’s security when his fame ascended. Charlie even admits he went overboard protecting Eddie when he threatened to beat up a paralyzed former football player. It was ostensibly extreme, but as Charlie put it,”That’s my brother.” (Also, apparently Charlie was the one who told a heckler to shut up during Eddie’s Delirious special, which not only makes sense but makes the moment even funnier.)
There are pictures of Charlie Murphy looking eerily thin performing stand up as he was fighting cancer.
I don’t want to remember him like that.
Most people will probably remember him standing in front of a green screen casually sharing the funniest and most outrageous celebrity stories any of us will ever hear. But, for me, and I don’t know why, when I think of Charlie Murphy, I’ll always have that image of him dancing with a glittered-hair girl as he’s rocking a striped suit, a jheri curl, and big ass smile.
Rest in peace, Charlie Murphy.
July 12, 1959 – April 12, 2017
Written by The W