Gil Hill, Eddie Murphy’s Boss in 'Beverly Hills Cop' Series, Dies at 84

Gil Hill EVERETT P 2016
Everett Collection

He was a real-life police officer in Detroit when he caught the attention of director Martin Brest.

Gil Hill, the real-life Detroit policeman who portrayed Eddie Murphy’s no-nonsense boss in the three Beverly Hills Cop films, has died. He was 84.

Hill, who had battled respiratory problems, died Feb. 17 at DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit, a local website reported. “We are relieved that his passing was peaceful and painless,” his family said in a statement.

Hill played frustrated police Inspector Douglas Todd, who frequently dressed down the unorthodox — yet wildly successful — Detective Axel Foley (Murphy), in the box-office smash hit Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and its 1987 and 1994 sequels.

Director Martin Brest was in Detroit scouting locations for the first film when he met Hill, who was showing him around town. On a whim, he asked the cop — who had been on the job for about 25 years — to read a few lines.

“I thought, ‘Holy smoke, there could be something here,’ ” Brest recalled in a January 1985 story for People magazine.

The director noted that “not only was [Hill] able to put out a lot of hot-tempered emotion but, in a subtle way, convey an underlying love, the kind a father would have for a son. That’s difficult for a professional actor, and the fact that Gil was doing it just blew my mind.”

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Hill went on to head the homicide division of the Detroit Police Department and won election as president of the city council. He ran for mayor in 2001 but lost to Kwame Kilpatrick and, in total, served the city of Detroit for more than 40 years.