Charlie Murphy, the older brother of Eddie Murphy and beloved comedian whose iconic bits on “Chappelle’s Show” sealed his own celebrity status, died Wednesday after a battle with leukemia.
He was 57.
The Brooklyn-bred funnyman passed away after undergoing chemotherapy. He died at a New York hospital.
In a final Twitter post Tuesday night, Charlie Murphy wrote, “One to Sleep On: Release the past to rest as deeply as possible.”
The untimely death stunned loved ones who thought Murphy was gaining strength ahead of a “Comedy Get Down” gig in Detroit next month.
“He was doing well, but he contracted pneumonia and that’s what took him out. His body wasn’t strong enough to fight the infection. It was very sudden,” cousin Richard Murphy, 43, told the Daily News at the elder Murphy’s home in Englewood, N.J.
“Our hearts are heavy with the loss today of our son, brother, father, uncle and friend Charlie,” a family statement issued by Eddie Murphy’s publicist read.
“Charlie filled our family with love and laughter and there won’t be a day that goes by that his presence will not be missed,” the statement read.
Murphy’s upcoming show was part of his ongoing tour with fellow comedians Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and George Lopez.
“It’s grieving time,” Griffin told The News in an emotional phone interview.
“Charlie Murphy was the greatest storyteller I ever had the privilege of hanging around. He would tell a story and not miss an inflection or a single detail. But all that aside, the number one thing about him was that he was a great family man, a great father. That was his main concern,” Griffin said.
“We’ve been on tour together for about three years now. When we first started, we were both single fathers. We’d have a lot of conversations about that,” he said.
Murphy earned a tremendous fan base as a writer for “Chappelle’s Show,” on which he frequently appeared alongside star Dave Chappelle.
His wildly popular segment, “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories,” featured him laughing through recollections of his real-life interactions with celebrities such as Rick James.
A famous sketch about Prince re-enacted a basketball game in which the “Purple Rain” singer, played by Chappelle, and his band, The Revolution, ran circles around Murphy and his friends while the music icon wore a frilly “blouse.”
Before his own health crisis, Murphy lost wife Tisha Taylor to cervical cancer in 2009. The couple had married in 1997 and had two children — daughter Ava and son Xavier. Murphy had a third child from a previous relationship.
Fellow comedians rushed to pay tribute to Murphy on social media Wednesday.
“We just lost one of the funniest most real brothers of all time,” Chris Rock tweeted along with a photo of Murphy playing nightclub owner Gusto in Rock’s 1993 movie “CB4.”
Hughley also called Murphy the “best storyteller” and admitted his shock at the news.
“I can’t pretend like I didn’t know he was sick, but I thought that the way he handled himself and the way that he laughed that he would be alright,” Hughley said on his syndicated radio show, “The D.L. Hughley Show.”
“Charlie Murphy had such an indomitable will that you believed what he told you rather than what your eyes told you,” Hughley said.
– Molly Crane Newman