Even if you attain great success in the entertainment industry, you will never forget the celebrities who inspired and motivated you. Numerous famous individuals have expressed gratitude towards the stars of the past for their impact on their own careers. Recently, Eddie Murphy disclosed a surprising way in which he paid tribute to one of his comedic influences.
Undoubtedly, Eddie Murphy drew significant inspiration from the generation of comedians who preceded him, with Redd Foxx being one of his primary influences. Foxx, a prolific and acclaimed stand-up comedian, recorded more than 50 comedy albums over the course of his career. His ribald routines were considered groundbreaking at the time and are likely to have had an impact on Murphy’s comedic style.
Today, Foxx is perhaps best known for his portrayal of Fred Sanford on the popular sitcom Sanford and Son. The show, which premiered in the 1970s, was an immediate hit and propelled the street-smart Foxx to stardom. It was a groundbreaking series in many respects, particularly for featuring an all African American cast, which was a rarity on sitcoms at the time.
However, Redd Foxx had other concerns on his mind. According to writer Ted Bergman, Foxx was focused on eliciting laughter from his audiences. Despite being a black man in 1975, just a decade after the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, which was met with water cannons and attack dogs, Foxx remained committed to entertaining his audiences. Bergman simply wrote what he found funny and trusted the actors to handle the rest.
Following the success of Sanford and Son, Foxx also received his own show named after him, “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.” After Murphy’s career took off, he and Foxx became friends and acted together in the movie Harlem Nights. Furthermore, following the success of Sanford and Son, Foxx was given his own show, “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.”
Despite his successful career, Foxx faced significant financial struggles and eventually filed for bankruptcy. It’s said that he earned $4 million in just one year, but his extravagant lifestyle quickly depleted his wealth, which was further worsened by mismanagement issues. Additionally, his costly divorces only added to his dire financial situation. For instance, he had to pay over $150,000 in alimony to his second wife, Betty Jean, including monthly maintenance payments of $10,000 after their divorce in 1974.
After divorcing his third wife, Joi Yun Chi Chung, Foxx was obligated to pay $300,000 in a divorce settlement. During the divorce proceedings, Foxx expressed that he had been married three times and was finished with it, preferring to have children instead. He believed that when he had to give up his money due to divorce, it should go towards his children rather than some other person. Sadly, Foxx passed away in 1991 from a heart attack, and he was in such severe debt to the IRS that it was uncertain how his burial expenses would be covered.
Prior to his passing, Foxx expressed that the IRS had taken his jewelry, including his ID bracelet, and the money from his wallet, which made him feel dehumanized. It’s estimated that at the time of his death, the struggling comedian owed over $3.6 million in taxes. Fortunately, Eddie Murphy came forward to cover the expenses and provide Foxx with a respectful funeral. Murphy confirmed that he personally buried Redd Foxx and had to pay for various expenses, such as purchasing a headstone. He also mentioned that he had previously stepped up to cover similar costs for others.
Reflecting on his experiences, Murphy expressed that he had buried numerous individuals over the years. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, many people in the entertainment industry don’t have their affairs in order when they pass away. He noted that many famous individuals have been buried without proper arrangements in place. Despite the cost of a funeral, Murphy was at the height of his career at the time and willingly stepped forward to assist his old friend and mentor.
According to Murphy, he and Redd Foxx were close, and he had a great fondness for him. Even after many years had passed, Murphy had not forgotten about the late comedian. In fact, he paid homage to Foxx in his most recent film, Dolemite is My Name: