Richard Claxton Gregory, better known as Dick Gregory, was an American humorist, civil rights leader, and activist born on October 12, 1932. Gregory was a famous man within the African-American community in the southern regions of the United States. His comedic sets poked fun at the country’s bigotry and racism; throughout his life, he became a vocal activist, speaking against the Vietnam War and racial inequality. Today, Gregory is held in high regard and often featured along with fearless leaders like Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Join us to celebrate his birthday and review his career.
Richard Claxton Gregory
October 12, 1932
August 19, 2017 (age 84)
Richard Claxton Gregory, A.K.A. Dick Gregory was a revered name in America. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 12, 1932, and attended Sumner High School in his early years, excelling at track events. His athletic prowess earned him a track scholarship to Southern Illinois University, where he set new school records as a half-miler and miler. In 1954, Gregory’s college career was interrupted by a United States Army draft. There, he got his first serious shot at comedy. After his discharge, he moved to Chicago, Illinois, and became a part of a generation of black comedians that included the likes of Nipsey Russell and Godfrey Cambridge. This generation of comedians broke with the minstrel tradition of black stereotypes.
Gregory’s New York debut performance was at The Blue Angel nightclub in 1961. In the same year, he returned to Chicago and got his big break at the Playboy Club after meeting Hugh Hefner, who hired him to work at the club as a replacement for Irwin Corey. Gregory’s stint at Chicago was designed to be for a night but ended up lasting six weeks. The comedian got a student-issued invitation to speak at the University of Tennessee, but the university’s administration rescinded its invitation, branding Gregory as an “extreme racist.” However, after a lawsuit against the institution by its alums, Gregory performed at the university in April 1970. Gregory went on to more productions; he was Cathy Hughes’ co-host on a radio show and appeared as Mr. Sun on the T.V. show “Wonder Showzen” in 2005, for instance. Aside from comedy, Gregory had an influential political career. He ran for President in 1968 as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party.
As a very celebrated political activist and comedian, Gregory kept his personal life under wraps. He married Lillian Gregory in 1959, and they had 11 children. Gregory died of heart failure on August 19, 2017. Before his death, he released 16 albums, the most recent being “You Don’t Know Dick,” in 2016.
Gregory performs for the first time at the Blue Angel nightclub.
He publishes “[Redacted]: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory.”
Gregory performs at the University of Tennessee after a lawsuit by the students.
Gregory speaks about injustice for Black History Month.
Gregory releases “You Don’t Know Dick,” the final piece of his discography.
Why We Love Dick Gregory
He was hilarious
Gregory was an adept comedian. He was effortlessly funny.
He was a feminist
Gregory was an activist for several causes, including feminism. He was an outspoken feminist and participated in marches often.
He was a civil rights activist
Gregory cared about the well-being of the African-American communities. This includes the civil rights movement, diets, urban pollution, etc.
5 Surprising Facts
He worked at the mail office
Gregory worked at the United States Postal Service in the daytime.
He ran for Mayor
In 1967, Gregory ran for Mayor of Chicago.
He lost a boy
Gregory lost his son Richard Jr., who passed away in infancy.
He was anti-Apartheid
Gregory was a vocal supporter of the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
He was a vegetarian activist
Gregory was not only a vegetarian but also a vegetarian activist!
Dick Gregory FAQs
How many books did Dick Gregory write?
Gregory’s bibliography featured 16 books.
How many movies was Dick Gregory in?
Gregory’s filmography boasts 14 films and T.V. appearances.
When was Dick Gregory’s documentary film released?
“The One and Only Dick Gregory” was released in June 2021.
Dick Gregory’s birthday dates