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Though he wouldn't enjoy a hint of his brother Eddie Murphy's mainstream and financial success until 2003, Charlie Murphy has been an active participant in a variety of films: sometimes as an actor, often as a writer, and occasionally as both. After offering small but indelible performances in Harlem Nights (1989) and Mo' Better Blues (1990), Murphy could be seen in the role of "Livin' Large" in Spike Lee's groundbreaking urban drama Jungle Fever. Despite the relative failure of Vampire in Brooklyn, which Murphy co-wrote, the young actor continued on with his career, and began to develop a devoted, if small, fan base. Ultimately, after more bit parts in African-American-oriented comedies (The Players Club [1998], The Pompatus of Love [1995]), Murphy got his big break as a writer and actor for Dave Chappelle's surprise TV hit Chappelle's Show. Though he is a key figure in many of the show's sketches, he gained the most notoriety for an allegedly true encounter involving Murphy and funk rocker Rick James.

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