Dec 11, 1982: Eddie Murphy Hosts 'Saturday Night Live' for the First Time

Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
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Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

When one 48 Hours star falls ill, the other star pulls through.

Joking about how actor Nick Nolte eagerly accepted the opportunity to host Saturday Night Live only to get off the plane and vomiting, his co-star Eddie Murphy took to the Saturday Night Live stage with gusto as he announced, "Live From New York, it's the Eddie Murphy show!"



On this day in '82, Eddie Murphy became the first talent on SNL to host the show while also being a regular cast member. From a Christmas Gumby sketch, potentially one of most famous sketches from the show, in which Gumby (Eddie Murphy) and Frank Sinatra (Joe Piscopo) make a surly seasonal appearance to Steve Martin's cameo during the episode's closing, the episode stands out in this eighth season as a turning point for both Murphy and the show.

To top it all off, the musical guest that night was Lionel Richie performing "You Are" and "Truly." 

(The NBC clip of the cold opening is available for viewing here).

Murphy was just 19 when he first debuted on SNL during the late 1980's, first in uncredited cameos before he appeared as a "Weekend Update" commentator by December 1980. The new producer Jean Doumanian was taking over after creator Lorne Michaels and his original cast had departed, and the resulting show suffered undeniably. 

As 'Saturday Night Dead' neared cancellation, the network discovered Murphy, whose segments and sketches helped ratings recover. The more air-time Murphy got, the higher ratings would shoot up - Murphy was not only en route to become one of the most popular entertainers in the world, but also was single-handedly reviving the comedy show. 

Murphy then took a 31-year hiatus from the show before returning in 2015 to celebrate the show's 40th-anniversary special.

Fellow comedian Chris Rock introduced the familiar face, describing how the comic "single-handedly saved SNL in the early '80s."  When Murphy took the stage, he shared with the audience how he was happy there were "so many people here that value the stuff that I did 35 years ago."

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