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Though the actor and comedian has enjoyed a healthy career for three decades, his fame has often been eclipsed by bad press and a very long series of questionable film choices.
That’s one of the reasons why his selection as the 2012 Oscar host was so controversial — and such a promising move for him.
But as he often does, Murphy took another shot at his proverbial foot on Tuesday, announcing his departure from the broadcast and leaving the Academy very much without a paddle only four months before the festivities.
If anyone is surprised by this, just take a quick look at his colorful resume of screw-ups to see that it’s really no surprise at all:
1983: Delirious’ many gay slurs
It takes a special kind of performer to open their comedy film with blatant homophobia. Murphy’s infamous 70-minute set, which included a depiction of a gay Mr. T and 230 mentions of the word “f—,” also channeled Ratner with another f-word. “Faggots aren’t allowed to look at my ass while I’m onstage,” Murphy said, wearing a red leather suit. “That’s why I keep moving up here. You don’t know where the faggot section is, so you’ve got to keep moving.”
1985: How Could It Be
In all honesty, “Party All The Time” has a pretty fantastic chorus, and of the many actors to attempt a musical career, Murphy certainly didn’t fall the flattest. But his vanity project, an album called How Could It Be, was dominated by regrettably tracks like “I, Me, Us, We,” “C-O-N Confused” and “My God Is Color Blind.” Even collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Rick James couldn’t save this stinker.
1995: Vampire in Brooklyn
Murphy’s schlocky attempt at the tricky genre of “horror comedy” included a vampire with a Caribbean accent, an alcoholic preacher and an obscene Italian gangster (in white face) — all three of whom he played himself.
1997: That transvestite hooker
Proving that even the biggest booboos can be overcome, Murphy weathered his 1997 run-in with the police and a transvestite hooker he picked up surprisingly well. His explanation for being caught in the seedy neighborhood with a gentleman of the night riding shotgun was that he enjoyed helping out hookers. “It’s not the first hooker I’ve helped out,” he said at the time. (As long as they don’t check him out, apparently.)
2006: Rejecting his unborn child
Murphy struck up a romance with Spice Girl Melanie Brown soon after divorcing his wife of 15 years. She was soon pregnant, and when their relationship dissolved, he openly questioned (and denied) paternity. Brown got the test, confirming Murphy was the father, but she’s since said he hasn’t sought a relationship with their daughter.
There was Oscar buzz around Murphy’s 2006 turn in Dreamgirls — especially after he won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor. But while members of the Academy voted on the same category, the whole of the United States was covered in advertisements for yet another movie starring Murphy… in a fat suit… as a woman. Fat-suit-averse Alan Arkin took home the trophy for Little Miss Sunshine.
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