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When Eddie Murphy made his return to Studio 8H for “Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary Special,” longtime viewers were disappointed that his brief appearance didn’t include any character reprisals or comedy skits. Where were Buckwheat, Gumby and Mr. Robinson?
To commemorate the comedian’s 54th birthday (and make up for his slightly awkward SNL return), THR is bringing back some of Murphy’s most memorable screen roles:
1. Norbit (2007)
Murphy was his own co-star in the Brian Robbins-directed comedy film, which featured the comedian in the roles of a loud-mouthed, obese woman named Rasputia, a shy and timid nerd named Norbit and an aged Asian man named Mr. Wong. The amount of makeup it took to transform Murphy into three different characters scored Norbit an Academy Award for best makeup in 2008.
2. The Nutty Professor (1996)
The actor played all members of the Klump family in The Nutty Professor, a fantasy-comedy about an overweight college professor who undergoes an extreme weight loss transformation with the help of experimental chemicals. The film’s sequel, Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, was released in 2000.
3. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
In one of Murphy’s earlier film roles, he played a Detroit police detective who finds himself having difficulty adjusting to life in Beverly Hills when he winds up there on assignment for a murder case. Beverly Hills Cop garnered an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and spawned two sequels — Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994).
4. Saturday Night Live
The comedian’s impression of Buckwheat, one of the child characters from the Little Rascals, was one of Murphy’s most popular skits during his four-year run (1980-1984) as a regular castmember on “SNL.” He was also known for playing other characters like Mr. Robinson and Gumby, and doing a spot-on James Brown impersonation.
5. Shrek (2001)
Murphy voiced Donkey, Shrek’s trusty companion, in the animated three-part franchise (Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third were released in later years). Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz were also featured as voice actors.
6. Dr. Dolittle (1998)
In the 1998 fantasy film, Murphy played the role of a doctor who discovers he has the ability to understand and communicate with animals. Dr. Doolittle spawned four sequels following its release — Dr. Dolittle 2, Dr. Dolittle 3, Dr. Dolittle: Tail to the Chief and Dr. Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts.
7. Dreamgirls (2006)
Murphy scored his first Oscar nomination for best supporting actor for his role as R&B singer James “Thunder” Early in Dreamgirls, a musical drama that also starred Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson.
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Jamie Lee Curtis