On This Day In Comedy… In 1996 ‘The Nutty Professor’ Was Released By Universal Pictures


On this day in comedy on June 28, 1996, The Nutty Professor was released by Universal Pictures

This was considered an Eddie Murphy comeback film.  It wasn’t the first or the last. After his first slump; the unholy trilogy of The Distinguished Gentleman, Beverly Hills Cop III and Vampire in Brooklyn, Hollywood was ready to remove Murphy’s name plate from his studio parking space until the 1963 Jerry Lewis remake got made.  Hollywood had to be quiet until the next slump from the mega-star.

In this updated version Murphy plays the portly Professor Sherman Klump, a genius with a weight loss formula.  It makes him develop a slim, toned, wild and crazy alter ego who gets the unknowing Klump in plenty of real time trouble.   Originally based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Klump’s dilemma is that the alter ego, once controllable, takes over.  The climax occurs when Klump regains his life and banishes the thin man.

The Nutty Professor co-starred Jada Pinkett, Dave Chappelle, Larry Miller, James Coburn, Jamal Mixon, John Ales and Montell Jordan as himself.   Eddie Murphy displayed his versatility by playing his entire family; his father, mother, grandmother and brother as well as a Richard Simmons parody character.  The film deservedly won an Oscar for Best Makeup. Tom Shadyac directed, and Jerry Lewis was one of the executive producers.

The critics loved the film and so did the ticket-buying public.  On a budget of $54 million, The Nutty Professor earned $273,961,019 at the worldwide box office.    Murphy even received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.   The comeback was complete, and the string of flops was over; that is until Showtime, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, I-Spy, Daddy Day Care, The Haunted Mansion . . .

By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton


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