NEW YORK • When Eddie Murphy first appeared on Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1980, the show was on the brink of extinction.
Creator Lorne Michaels had left before the sixth season and most of the high-profile cast was gone.
But Murphy, who will host SNL on Dec 21 - the first time he has performed comedy on the NBC show since 1984 - became a breakout star who would later be credited with keeping the show afloat.
A stand-up comic, Murphy was just 19 when he joined SNL. Much of the material he performed tackled race in edgy and direct ways.
During his four-year run on SNL, he became a movie star with hits such as 48 Hours (1982) and Trading Places (1983).
As he approached his final season in 1984, he told Rolling Stone magazine he did not find SNL funny anymore, and was ready to focus on his acting and music career.
Now, Murphy is prepping for a return to the spotlight, with rumours that a Netflix stand-up special is also in the works.
He recently appeared in the latest season of Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix and will be in next month's Netflix movie Dolemite Is My Name.
Given the resurgence, it makes sense that Murphy has chosen now as the time to return to SNL.
"This show is such a big part of who I am," he once said. And being at Studio 8H, he noted, "feels like going back to my old high school".