2015 Recipient: Eddie Murphy
Celebrating Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize aired nationwide on November 23, 2015 (Check local listings for rebroadcast information).
The special featured a star-studded cast of Murphy’s friends and colleagues, including top entertainers and comedians Dave Chapelle, Kathy Griffin, Arsenio Hall, Brittany Howard, George Lopez, Sam Moore, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Nealon, Trevor Noah, Jay Pharoah, Joe Piscopo and Chris Rock. The 2015 program paid tribute to the humor and accomplishments of the comedy icon.
Eddie Murphy is the most commercially successful African-American actor in the history of the motion picture business and is one of the industry’s top-five box-office performers overall. Murphy is on the very short list of actors who have starred in multiple $100 million pictures over the past three decades, from Beverly Hills Cop to Daddy Day Care. He is also the voice of Donkey in the Oscar®-winning animated film Shrek and its sequel, Shrek 2, which is the top-grossing animated film of all time.
Murphy won an Annie Award and earned BAFTA and MTV Movie Award nominations for his performance in the first Shrek, and reprised the role of Donkey in the final installment of the hugely successful franchise, Shrek Goes Fourth. Murphy began his career as a stand-up comedian 25 years ago. In 1980, at the age of 19, he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, and has since gone on to establish a successful career on the big screen. His films have been among the highest-grossing comedies in the industry, including 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Dr. Dolittle, Coming to America and the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.
Murphy garnered Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor in a Comedy for his performances in Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places and 48 Hrs. In 1989, Murphy made his directorial debut with Harlem Nights, a period comedy he also wrote and starred in, opposite Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.
In addition, Murphy starred in and produced the hit comedy Life co-starring Martin Lawrence, and starred opposite Steve Martin in the comedy Bowfinger. He was also the voice of Mushu the Dragon in the successful animated epic Mulan. In 2007, Murphy received rave reviews and critical acclaim for his portrayal of James “Thunder” Early in the Dreamworks film Dreamgirls, a performance which would garner him the Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture as well as earning him his first Academy Award nomination in the same category.