Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor


12/1/1940, Peoria, Illionis



Birth Name


out of 10
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30 votes


This comedian turned actor, is one of the best of our times. Richard Pryor had two of his own television series known as "Pryor's Place" and "The Richard Pryor Show". However, neither one of these show lasted too long. Although, Pryor, did much better on the big screen.…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • His nicknames were Rich, Richie, Dickie, and Dick.

    • Richard was sexually molested by a Catholic Priest during Catheticism at age 9.

    • Richard formed his own production company in 1980, calling it Indigo.

    • Richard played Billie Holliday's drug-addicted piano player in the 1974 movie Lady Sings The Blues, earning high praise for his dramatic flair.

    • Richard found it impossible to conform to the rigid constrained format of Las Vegas and walked off during his act at the Aladdin in 1969, refusing to play Vegas again.

    • Richard's first appearance on the Las Vegas stage was as the opening act for Bobby Darin, at the Flamingo Hotel.

    • Richard worked as a shoe shine boy, a janitor at a strip club, truck driver, and a meat packer before becoming famous.

    • Richard refused to abandon his career, even as his disease became more and more debilitating, he continued to incorporate his personal stories into his comedy acts.

    • Richard suffered a massive heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass surgery in 1990.

    • Richard was given CPR by wife Jennifer Lee, as she tried to revive him before the paramedics arrived. According to her, Richard died with a smile on his face.

    • Richard's abandonment of the racial slur Ni**er in his act attracted death threats, hate mail, and attacks on his home from deranged former fans.

    • Richard teamed up with Alec Baldwin against Burger King to get them to meet or exceed the animal welfare standards set by McDonalds.

    • Richard paved the way for other comedian-turned-actors like Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and Martin Lawrence by playing three different characters in the 1977 film Which Way Is Up?

    • Richard made his first appearance of many with Gene Wilder in the action/comedy film Silver Streak in 1976.

    • Richard's image was shown during both the 'In Memoriam' montage at the 2006 Academy Awards Show, and the same at the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards.

    • Richard was the inspiration for the song called 'Richard Pryor Addresses A Tearful Nation', sung by Joe Henry on his Scar album.

    • Richard hand-picked comedian Mike Epps to portray him in a biopic that he and his wife had written.

    • Richard was honored after his death with a BET Special that included commentary from his fellow comedians, as well as insight into his childhood.

    • Richard's ex-wives all accused him of domestic violence and verbal abuse, with the exception of Flynn. The other wives related his violence with his drug abuse. Deborah McGuire accused him of shooting at her car with a .357 Magnum, but later dropped the charges.

    • Richard felt that God gave him the disease of Multiple Sclerosis to save his life, because he became sober for the frist time after being diagnosed.

    • Richard's second son, his fourth child, was born in 1984 to girlfriend Flynn Belaine. They were married in October of 1986, and divorced in July of 1987, but before the divorce was final, Flynn conceived Kelsey Pryor. Meanwhile, another one of Richard's girlfriends, Geraldine Mason gave birth his fifth child and third son in April 1987.

    • Richard wrote and directed a fictionalized account of his life called Jo JO Dancer, Your Life Is Calling.

    • Richard won the inaugural Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1998.

    • Richard co-hosted the Academy Awards show twice, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for guest starring on the television medical drama Chicago Hope.

    • Richard was originally considered to play the part of Billy Ray Valentine in Trading Places, but was looked over for Eddie Murphy in 1983.

    • Richard was set to start filming History of the World, Part I, until he had an accident while he was free-basing cocaine. He was replaced at the last minute by actor Gregory Hines.

    • Richard co-wrote the comedy Blazing Saddles, starring Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Brooks.

    • Richard was a bonafide major world wide star in 1983, when he signed a five-year contract for $40,000,000 with Columbia Pictures.

    • Richard constantly used the racial slur ni**er in his comedy act, amongst other offensive words. He traveled to Africa in 1979, and upon his return to the United States, swore to never use the word Ni**er in his stand-up comedy act again. He still held on to his other choice offensive words and material, however.

    • Richard married once again in 1977, to actress Deborah McGuire, and they divorced in 1978. Soon after, he started dating Jennifer Lee, and married her in 1981, then divorced the following year.

    • Richard tried his hand at television work on NBC in 1977, but was unable to tone done his subject matter. He refused to alter the content of his program to meet the demands of network censors, so his series was cancelled after just five shows.

    • Richard married married his first wife Patricia Price in 1960, and had a son. They named him Richard Jr., the couple divorced in 1961. His second child was born in 1967, to his girlfriend Maxine Anderson. This was Richard's first daughter, Elizabeth Ann. He married Shelly Bonus in 1967, and his second daughter, Rain Pryor was welcomed in 1969. Richard and Shelly divorced later that year.

    • Richard appeared in his first film, a documentary about race relations in Watts and the nation, in 1972. It was titled Wattstax.

    • Richard moved to Berkley, Californiz in 1969, and sunk his teeth into the counterculture, rubbing elbows with Huey P. Newton and Ishmael Reed. He signed on with the independent record label Laff Records in 1970.

    • Richard was inspired to start a career in comedy by watching the comedy act of Bill Cosby.

    • Richard enlisted in the United States Army in 1958, and spent almost the entire tour of duty in the army prison. While stationed in Germany, he was annoyed by a white soldier who found a racially charged section of Douglas Six's movie Imitation Of Life extremely funny. Richard and some other black soldiers beat and stabbed the white soldier, but not fatally. Richard ledft the Army in 1960.

    • Richard's first professional performance was playing drums in a nightclub.

    • Richard was expelled from school at the age of fourteen, and went on to begin working different odd jobs to earn money.

    • Richard was an actor, comedian, and author.

    • Richard Pryor was set to do the voice of Eddie for the film Look Who's Talking Too but reportedly got sick, the part eventually went to Damon Wayans.

    • After co-writing the screenplay, Pryor was originally cast as Sheriff Bart for the film Blazing Saddles, but left the project due to creative differences. The part eventually went to Cleavon Little.

    • In 1997, Richard made his final appearance on the big screen in David Lynch's Lost Highway.

    • In 1967, Richard made his screen debut in the film The Busy Body.

    • On June 1st, 1980 in Northridge, California, Richard actually set himself on fire and suffered third-degree burns on over 50% of his body while freebasing cocaine. He incorporated this incident into his final stand-up show Richard Pryor: Live on Sunset Strip, joking that the fire was actually the result of dunking a cookie into two kinds of milk.

    • Richard was once honored by PETA (the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), for saving baby elephants in Botswana that were targeted for circuses.

    • Richard's stand-up act has been captured in four different feature films, Live and Smokin', Richard Pryor Live in Concert, Richard Pryor Live on Sunset Strip, and Here and Now.

    • Richard actually remarried two of his ex-wives.

    • In 1986, Richard was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He didn't announce this to the public until 1991. He battled the disease until his death on December 10, 2005 of cardiac arrest, age 65.

    • In April 2004, Richard was chosen as #1 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time.

    • After being inspired by comedian Bill Cosby, Pryor went to New York in 1963 and quickly gained recognition for his club work as a stand-up.

    • In 1999, Richard was the first recipient of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize.

    • In 1974, Richard suffered his first heart attack. He had a second one in 1990.

    • From 1958-1960, Richard served in the U.S. Army which ended because he had an altercation with another G.I.

    • At age 14, Richard was expelled from school for a petty offense.

    • Richard was raised in by his grandmother, who ran a brothel in her home, where his mother Gertrude practiced prostitution. His father worked as his mother's pimp, and was a former bartender, boxer, and World War II Vetran.

    • Richard was raped at the age of six by a teenaged neighbor of his.

    • Richard reportedly earned $4,000,000 for his role in the 1983 film, Superman III. This was an unprecedented amount for a black actor, as well as one million dollars more than the film's star, Christopher Reeve received.

    • Richard dated actress Pam Grier in the 1970's.

    • Has won 5 Grammy Awards in the category of Best Comedy Recording throughout the 1970s and the 1980s.

  • Quotes

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    Richard Pryor was on of the best African-American actors who ever lived. He was so talented, he could tell people so many good things like no one else could. He is one of the greatest comedians ever! He was such a funny man. I think he is one of the best and funniest comedians ever! He had his own comedy movies making him even funnier. I think he is best remembered for all the comedy acts and gigs he did most of the time. It really did suck when he retired from acting in 1999. The most sad thing about his is when he died on December 2005 but he will be remembered forever!moreless
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    Richard Pryor is a legendary comic. His ground-breaking take on America have been massively influential to later generations of comedians.

    His film work has been much more hit and miss. He had some classics, but he also had some real clunkers. His best remembered movies are probably just his live stand-up acts.

    The man had a crazy life, which made for some great laughs for us, even if it meant a great deal of pain for him.moreless