Alongside the work that he was doing in his stand-up career, Murphy also became a vital cast member of Saturday Night Live. In fact, the comedian was widely credited with helping save the once-flagging institution during his four-year stint there. Then, in 1982 he began his Hollywood career by co-starring alongside Nick Nolte in cop comedy 48 Hrs.
A year later, Murphy appeared alongside another SNL graduate, Dan Aykroyd, in festive comedy Trading Places. But it was his first leading performance in 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop that launched the comedian to superstar status. He then went on to enjoy further box-office success in comedies The Golden Child and Coming to America as well as shining in a second outing as Axel Foley in smash hit Beverly Hills Cop II.
In 1989 Murphy then appeared alongside his hero Richard Pryor in Harlem Nights, and in the early ’90s he added to his list of hits with Another 48 Hrs. and Boomerang. The comic was then to prove that he has other strings to his bow, reinventing himself as a family-friendly favorite thanks to the likes of the Dr. Dolittle and Nutty Professor films. Plus, he enjoyed one of his biggest successes as the voice of Donkey in the animated franchise Shrek.