Did Eddie Murphy lose Academy Award as payback for 1988 Oscar diatribe?

When presenting the award for Best Picture at the Oscars back in 1988, Eddie Murphy took the chance to give a little impromptu speech about how racist the Academy Awards were, saying only three blacks had won Hollywood’s top award. He may have had a point, or maybe he should have directed his ire at the motion picture industry, which hasn’t featured African Americans as prominently as they should:

Eddie Murphy’s ” . . . moral outrage about the treatment of blacks in the motion picture industry led to two remarkable protests. At the 1988 Academy Awards show, Eddie was the presenter for Best Picture . . . he delivered an unscheduled, rambling diatribe against the Hollywood establishment. An angry Eddie announced to shocked viewers that he almost did not show because ‘they haven’t recognized black people in motion pictures,’ only three blacks have won Oscars in over sixty years. At this rate (Eddie said) ‘we ain’t due until 2004.’ A year earlier, Eddie had refused to pose for Paramount’s seventy-fifth anniversary group photo of the studio’s great stars . . . ” because he thought there would be no other blacks in the photo. Actually there was one other, Lou Gossett, Jr., although that is clearly not enough to suggest that Eddie Murphy’s original sentiment was in error.

[Excerpted from the book Patterns of Bias in Motion Picture Content by John Cones. Found at homevideo.net.]

So when Murphy lost Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dreamgirls to Alan Arkin in an upset, some people considered it payback, and said that 19 years wasn’t long enough for the Academy to forget his outburst:

Oscar’s got a long long memory and revenge is a dish best served cold! Reel back to the 1988 ceremonies when Eddie – presenting for Best Picture – shockingly accused the Academy of discriminating against blacks! I scooped in this column: “The star faced a screaming verbal attack from the show’s producers. One cornered Eddie in the wings and snapped: ‘How DARE you use my show to air your greivances!” And “West Side Story” director and Academy President Robert Wise roared: “As long as I am President you will NEVER, EVER be invited back!” Snarled Eddie: “I don’t give a (BLEEP)!”.

So was his Academy snub… payback time? Wise died in 2005, but many Academy members have never forgot Eddied sneak attack. And from where I sat on Oscar night, it looked like he’d suddenly remembered it too.

[From The National Enquirer print edition, March 19, 2007]

Little bitch Eddie stormed out when he lost out to Alan Arkin, skipping the rest of the ceremonies and missing his costar Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar and the performances from Dreamgirls.

He may have been right when he said back in 1988 “we ain’t due until 2004.” While Halle Berry was the first black woman to win for best actress in the 2002 ceremony for her role in Monster’s Ball, Jamie Foxx won best actor for Ray at the 2005 ceremony, technically the 2004 Oscars, when Morgan Freeman also won for best supporting actor in Million Dollar Baby. (Foxx was the second African American to win for best actor. The first was Sydney Portier in 1963′s Lilies of the Field.)

Then again, Murphy seems to be taking the cash over the high road when it comes to Oscar-worthy parts for African Americans. His dumb ass movie Norbit, in which he plays both a slutty obese black woman and a dorky Urkel type, has been widely criticized for its racial stereotypes. Murphy’s Oscar snub could have had more to do with the timing of that terrible film than with his outspokenness in 1988.

Update: Thanks to commentor Zee for pointing out that Denzel Washington also won in 2002 for Training Day, so maybe Murphy was off by a couple of years after all.

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15 Responses to “Did Eddie Murphy lose Academy Award as payback for 1988 Oscar diatribe?”

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  1. Carol says:

    Part of the problem may be that he’s just not well liked as a person. He’s had bad press lately over dumping his pregnant girlfriend and he had that transvestite hooker thing a few years ago. He’s just not someone people pull for. That shouldn’t matter in an award for a specific performance but unfortunately it does.

  2. Zee says:

    UM hello what about Denzel winning the same year as Halle . Research people

  3. Toubrouk says:

    Eddie Murphy is a Idiot who played the race card in front of an audience with a long memory.

    Can we really ignore the role Norbit had played in all that mess? That piece of trash that some persons call a movie is Ultra-Blaxpoitation at his worst. Amazingly, this has been delivered by our racial highground expert who wrote and produced that piece of ****.

    I believe the Oscars has done good by not giving any recognition to this two faced moron.

  4. kikistar says:

    I think he lost because of ‘Norbit’…not because he is A. American. And F. Withaker and J. Hudson won, so…

  5. celebitchy says:

    Thanks Zee. I did the research, but obviously forgot about Denzel. I will add that.

  6. liar says:

    If Eddie wants to be respected, he should stop making those horrible “fat-suit” movies he apparently loves so much.

  7. MaiGirl says:

    I think that the accusation should be leveled at Hollywood as a whole, and at the audiences. Often people of color are so eager to see anything ethnic that they will see racist tripe like Soul Plane or Norbit. We can’t allow these films to make money, because they Hwood will only make more and employ excellent actors in crappy roles.

    And he should have stayed to see the rest of the awards given out to his castmates. It’s just tacky bad form to leave.

  8. katie says:

    I didn’t see DreamGirls, but I saw Little Miss Sunshine and Alan Arkin did a great job in that movie.

  9. Kolby says:

    Denzel also won for Best Supporting Actor for Glory, an amazing film. I think that it probably isn’t the Academy that has discriminated in the past, but more likely the motion picture industry as a whole. However, if we really wanted to get into it, we could examine that the numbers of African American films, and African Americans in films, is somewhat connected to the number of African Americans in the country. I believe they make up about 12% of the population, less than Hispanics, who also haven’t won many, or even a few, major film awards. Either way, Eddie Murphy sounds like a tool.

  10. frewtloop says:

    Murphy’s performance was for me, the only good thing about Dream Girls….. Man, that film was stupid.

  11. miss luigi says:

    When are these “fatsuit cross-dressing” movies going to stop being made? Have any of them been remotely funny?

  12. Gigohead says:

    I find that hard to believe that folks would remember something almost 20 years ago. I have a feeling Eddie’s performance wasn’t good enough for an Oscar. I know I sound like Simon Cowell, but it resonanates in this case. Adam Arkin gave a better performance. Sorry Eddie.

  13. Miller says:

    Norbit (I hope he lost b/c of it). That damn movie was just plain cruel in its attitutde towards black women. He seems to have issues (tranny hookers, for ex.). I do think his poor personality and Arkin’s great performance made it easier to not vote for him. It’s so wrong, but I enjoyed his reaction when he lost. He was so damn arrogant prior, like, he was entitled to an Oscar. Not even Jamie Foxx, who everyone assumed would win, was that bad.

  14. MargeAggedon says:

    He didn’t win because he didn’t deserve to win. That he was nominated at all is only a nod to the movie, it’s creators and backers.
    I also love how he left immediately after losing and then tried to say he just wanted to go home early.
    Riiiiiiiight.

    Does he think he was only nominated so his perceived ‘enemies’ could watch him lose? Isn’t that a little paranoid?

    Occam’s razor. Maybe he just sucks.

  15. cal says:

    Hmmm the thing about this is that when did say that, there was alot of relevence to the statement. I guess he could have shut his mouth and never said anything but if you never say anything nothing changes. Go Ediie. I do disagree with him leaving though.