Eddie Murphy Will Return To Host SNL For The First Time In 35 Years

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For four seasons, Eddie Murphy was the star of Saturday Night Live. During Season 6, Murphy joined a cast that was rebounding from the mass exodus of the “Not Ready For Primetime Players” squad that made the show a cultural touchstone in the second half of the 1970s.

In the midst of Lorne Michaels’ exit, writers striking, and critical condemnation, Murphy ignited the once-revered show. By 1982, Murphy became a star—able to fill in as a host of the NBC show, including when his 48 Hours co-star Nick Nolte suddenly fell ill. During lean years, Murphy is often credited for keeping the sketch comedy program alive. He returned in Season 10 to host, reuniting with some of his former cast-mates as well as emerging talent, including Billy Crystal and Martin Short.

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During the 1970s, Black cast member Garrett Morris was often sidelined in sketches dominated by the breakout stars. Meanwhile, Murphy wrote many of his roles and dominated the screen time of Saturday nights. Spoofs of Fred Rogers, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gumby, and Our Gang‘s “Buckwheat” became timeless TV moments. Apart from impersonations, Murphy delivered enduring concepts to his roles, including the iconic “White Like Me” sketch.

Perhaps more than any SNL alum, Eddie Murphy thrived as a leading man, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s. However, the oft-snarky David Spade used the comedian as the butt of a Hollywood Minute joke. For the next 20-plus-years, Eddie Murphy refused to attend any of the cast reunions or hosting offers.

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His anticipated return came at 2015’s SNL 40. Although he participated in the fanfare, Murphy would ultimately decline to appear in a sketch. He later explained his decisions not to spoof the disgraced comedian Bill Cosby, which Murphy had imitated and worked into past standup.

Today (August 26), it’s been confirmed that Murphy will make a more involved return to SNL. For the series’ 45th season, Eddie is slated to host on December 21, per CNN.

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The confirmation comes during the latest renaissance for Murphy. He is producing and starring in Coming 2 America, a star-studded sequel to one of his most beloved films. At the same time, he’s reportedly in talks for his first standup special since the late 1980s, Eddie is also starring in Dolemite Is My Name for Netflix.