Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor Sr., or, Richard Pryor, was born on December 1, 1940, in Illinois, the United States. He was a renowned American stand-up comedian and actor, known for his insane jokes and acute observations. His storytelling style and recordings made him one of “Rolling Stone’s” 50 best stand-up comics of all time. He was also Comedy Central’s all-time greatest stand-up comedian. Pryor was a recipient of five Grammy Awards and a Primetime Emmy. He was a trailblazer and visionary who is an inspiration for all the comics to come. Born in an impoverished family, he rose because of his natural talent to make people laugh. His journey is worth celebrating.
Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor Sr., or Richard Pryor, as he was called, was a celebrated American comedian and actor. He was born on December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois, U.S., to LeRoy Buck Carter Pryor, a former boxer, and Gertrude Thomas, a sex worker. Pryor grew up in a brothel owned by his grandmother, where his mother worked. His father also worked as a hustler and a pimp. At 10, he was abandoned by his mother and then raised by his abusive grandmother.
In 1963, he relocated to New York, where he began performing in clubs alongside Woody Allen and Bob Dylan. His earliest inspiration was Bill Cosby, and he began as a middlebrow comic. When his career kicked off, he was invited to various popular T.V. shows, including “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson,” and such. He released his first comedy recording, “Richard Pryor,” in 1968. In the ‘70s, he wrote for shows including “Sanford and Son.” After making his film debut in “The Busy Body” (1967), he appeared in movies such as “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972), “Adios Amigo” (1975), and “Car Wash” (1976). He released his third comedy album with Stax Records in 1974. This turned out to be his breakthrough album and won the Best Comedy Album Grammy at the 1975 Grammy Awards. His next album in 1976 won Best Comedy Recording at the 1977 Grammys. In 1980, he starred in “Stir Crazy,” earning a million dollars for his role. Three years later, Pryor signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.
He was an exceptionally gifted comedian with a unique storytelling style. He was voted number one on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time and was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He was married seven times to five women and had seven children. He struggled with substance abuse and alcoholism and suffered his third heart attack on December 10, 2005, which proved fatal.
Pryor’s debut comedy album, “Richard Pryor,” is released.
Pryor releases his third comedy album.
Pryor becomes the first black actor to earn a million dollars for his role in the movie “Stir Crazy.”
Pryor signs a five-year, $40 million contract with Columbia Pictures and establishes his own production company, Indigo Productions.
Pryor and his wife obtain legal rights to all the Laff material, which totals nearly 40 hours of reel-to-reel analog tape.
Why We Love Richard Pryor
He was an activist
Pryor was particularly concerned about animal rights. He was concerned about the plight of elephants in zoos. He also received a humanitarian award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (P.E.T.A.).
He was crazy talented
As an actor and comedian, Pryor was incredibly talented. His jokes made fans choke on laughter, and he bodied every role. He also had sharp observations about people and situations that he used in his comic acts.
He was an inspiration
Pryor’s success as an African-American in the industry inspired more people to pursue their dreams. His existence served as an inspiration to the coming generations.
5 Surprising Facts
He was bisexual
Pryor had relations with both men and women.
He was sexually abused
Pryor was sexually abused when he was seven years old.
He served in the Army
From 1958 to 1960, Pryor served in the U.S. military.
His mother was a sex worker
Pryor’s mother was an alcoholic sex worker who eventually abandoned him.
He remarried his ex-wives
Pryor remarried two of his ex-wives after divorcing them previously.
Richard Pryor FAQs
Was Richard Pryor the first black person to host S.N.L.?
Yes, Pryor was the first African American person to host “Saturday Night Live” (S.N.L.).
What ailment did Richard Pryor have?
He had multiple sclerosis.
What was Richard Pryor’s last movie?
His last movie was “Lost Highway” (1997).
Richard Pryor’s birthday dates