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Richard Pryor Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (7) | Trade Mark (2) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (14) | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 1 December 1940Peoria, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 10 December 2005Encino, Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameRichard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III
Nicknames Richie
Dickie
Dick
Rich
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Highly influential, and always controversial, African/American actor/comedian who was equally well known for his colorful language during his live comedy shows, as for his fast paced life, multiple marriages and battles with drug addiction. He has been acknowledged by many modern comic artist's as a key influence on their careers, and Pryor's observational humor on African/American life in the USA during the 1970s was razor sharp brilliance. He was born Richard Franklin Lennox Pryor III in Peoria, Illinois on December 1st 1940, the son of a prostitute, and was abandoned by his mother at ten years of age, after which he was raised in his grandmother's brothel. Unfortunately, Pryor was molested at the age of six by a teenage neighbor, and later by a neighborhood preacher. To escape this troubled life, the young Pryor was an avid movie fan and a regular visitor to local movie theaters in Peoria. After numerous jobs, including truck driver and meat packer, the young Pryor did a stint in the US Army between 1958 & 1960 in which he performed in amateur theater shows. After he left the services in 1960, Pryor started singing in small clubs, but inadvertently found that humor was his real forte.

Pryor spent time in both New York & Las Vegas, honing his comic craft. However, his unconventional approach to humor sometimes made bookings difficult to come by and this eventually saw Pryor heading to Los Angeles. He first broke into films with minor roles in The Busy Body (1967) and Wild in the Streets (1968). However, his performance as a drug addicted piano player in Lady Sings the Blues (1972), really got the attention of fans and film critics alike.

He made his first appearance with Gene Wilder in the very popular action/comedy Silver Streak (1976), played three different characters in Which Way Is Up? (1977) and portrayed real-life stock-car driver "Wendell Scott" in Greased Lightning (1977). Proving he was more than just a comedian, Pryor wowed audiences as a disenchanted auto worker who is seduced into betraying his friends and easy money in the Paul Schrader working class drama Blue Collar (1978), also starring Yaphet Kotto and Harvey Keitel. Always a strong advocate of African/American talent, Pryor next took a key role in The Wiz (1978), starring an all African/American cast, including Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, retelling the story of The Wizard of Oz (1939). His next four screen roles were primarily cameos in California Suite (1978); The Muppet Movie (1979); Wholly Moses! (1980) and In God We Tru$t (1980). However, Pryor teamed up with Gene Wilder once more for the prison comedy Stir Crazy (1980), which did strong box office business.

His next few films were a mixed bag of material, often inhibiting Pryor's talent, with equally mixed returns at the box office. Pryor then scored second billing to Christopher Reeve in the big budget Superman III (1983), and starred alongside fellow funny man John Candy in Brewster's Millions (1985) before revealing his inner self in the autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986). Again, Pryor was somewhat hampered by poor material in his following film ventures. However, he did turn up again in See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) with Gene Wilder, but the final product was not as sharp as their previous pairings. Pryor then partnered on-screen with two other very popular African/American comic's. The legendary Redd Foxx and 1980s comic newcomer Eddie Murphy starred with Pryor in the gangster film Harlem Nights (1989) which was also directed by Eddie Murphy. Having contracted multiple sclerosis in 1986, Pryor's remaining film appearances were primarily cameos apart from his fourth and final outing with Gene Wilder in the lukewarm Another You (1991), and his final appearance in a film production was a small role in the David Lynch road flick Lost Highway (1997).

Fans of this outrageous comic genius are encouraged to see his live specials Richard Pryor: Live and Smokin' (1971); the dynamic Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1979); Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982) and Richard Pryor... Here and Now (1983). In addition, The Richard Pryor Show (1977) is a must-have for any Richard Pryor fans' DVD collection.

Unknown to many, Pryor was a long time advocate against animal cruelty, and he campaigned against fast food chains and circus shows to address issues of animal welfare. He was married a total of seven times, and fathered eight children.

After long battles with ill health, Richard Pryor passed away on December 10th, 2005.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: firehouse44@hotmail.com

Spouse (7)

Jennifer Lee (June 2001 - 10 December 2005) (his death)
Flynn Belaine (1 April 1990 - 1991) (divorced)
Flynn Belaine (10 October 1986 - 1987) (divorced)
Jennifer Lee (16 August 1981 - 1982) (divorced)
Deborah McGuire (22 September 1977 - 2 October 1978) (divorced)
Shelley R. Bonus (13 January 1968 - 1969) (divorced) (1 child)
Patricia Price (1960 - 1961) (divorced) (1 child)

Trade Mark (2)

Foul language that has been compared to raw sewage mixed with social insight that has been compared to Mark Twain.
Frequently worked with Gene Wilder

Trivia (28)

Has admitted the fire that nearly killed him while free-basing cocaine in the early 1980s was in fact a suicide attempt. His management created the "accident" lie for the press in hopes of protecting him.
Awarded The First Annual Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize.
Served with U.S. army, 1958-1960.
Reunited with fourth wife, Jennifer Lee.
Mother, Gertude, died when Pryor was 27 years old.
Children: Renee, Richard Jr, Elizabeth, Rain, Stephen, Kelsey and Franklin Mason.
Father, Buck Carter (aka LeRoy Pryor), was a bartender, boxer and WWII veteran, who died in 1968 when Richard was 28.
Claimed to have seen the film The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) 40 times. His future wife Jennifer Lee had a role in the film.
Father of Rain Pryor.
In 2002, Sheridan Road, on the south side of Peoria, was renamed Richard Pryor Place.
Pryor was originally slated to play Bart in Blazing Saddles (1974). Due to Pryor's background and controversial stand-up routines, Mel Brooks couldn't secure financing for the project. Brooks made Pryor a co-writer, and Cleavon Little played Bart.
Was originally considered for the role of Billy Ray Valentine on Trading Places (1983), before Eddie Murphy ultimately won the part.
Chosen as #1 in Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time. (April 2004).
Suffered from multiple sclerosis from 1986 until his death in 2005.
Former father-in-law Herbert Bonis managed Danny Kaye for 35 years.
Remarried two of his ex-wives.
Though he made four films with Gene Wilder, the two comic actors were never as close as many thought, according to the Gene Wilder's autobiography.
Eddie Murphy pointed to Pryor as his role model and inspiration to become a comedian himself.
In 1990, he suffered a massive heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery.
One of his limo drivers was Freddy Soto, who later went became a stand-up comedian. He also died in 2005.
Appeared in Superman III (1983), the only film in the series in which Lex Luthor does not appear. However, he did eventually get to work with an on-screen Lex Luthor, by appearing in See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) with Kevin Spacey.
Was originally to co-star with Gene Wilder in Hanky Panky (1982) but backed out. His part went to Gilda Radner.
Admitted that he did Superman III (1983) and The Toy (1982) purely for the money.
He passed away only 9 days after his 65th birthday.
Suffered a mild heart attack in November 1977.
At 16, he was expelled from Central High School for punching his science teacher.
He was expelled from a Catholic grammar school in Peoria, Illinois, when the nuns found out his grandmother owned a string of brothels.
He was invited to a private screening of Animal House (1978) by director 'John Landis (I)', who wanted Pryor's opinion about the scene at the black roadhouse. Landis and the film's backers were concerned that it would be offensive to black audiences. Pryor laughed out loud, and told them that it should definitely be kept in the movie.

Personal Quotes (14)

You can have a film and have 200 white people working on it, and nobody finds anything wrong with that. But if you insist on having a black crew, all of a sudden there's something wrong.
[on his job as a boxing gym sparring partner]: I always had to fight the guys who looked like they just killed their parents.
Comedy rules! Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, and there are no rules in stand-up comedy, which I really like. You can do anything you want and you can say anything that comes to mind, just so long as it's funny. If you ain't funny then get the fuck off the stage, it's that simple.
I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that.
I had some great things and I had some bad things. The best and the worst. In other words, I had a life.
It's been a struggle for me because I had a chance to be white and refused.
Everyone carries around his own monsters.
[on the free-basing incident which set him on fire] When you are running down the street.... and you are on fire, people will get out of your way.
I met the President. We in trouble.
[At the 1977 Academy Awards] I'm here to explain why black people will never be nominated for anything. This show is going out to seventy-five million people - none of them black. We don't even know how to vote. There's 3,349 people in the voting thing and only two black people - Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte. We're quitting. You'll have to listen to Lawrence Welk.
[on experiencing racism] I was just on the Today (1952) show and they were telling me how wonderful I was and I walk out into the reality of America and I can't get a cab.
The great comics all have a hole in their chest where their heart should be. Somebody yanked their heart out when they were just kids, and they've been spending their whole lives trying to fill that hole. Or kill the pain. I know that I did.
Black people got to look at themselves honestly, the same as white people did. And the stuff I talked about helped them do that. They loved it. Probably some sort of relief to both races that they could finally be honest about their shit.
[During his tour of Kenya in 1979, Pryor sat in a in a hotel lobby] The only people you saw were black. At the hotel, on television, in stores, on the street, in the newspapers, at restaurants, running the government, on advertisements. Everywhere...You know what? There are no niggers here. ... The people here, they still have their self-respect, their pride. [Describing legacy of trip that made him regret "ever having uttered the word 'nigger' on a stage or off it."]

Salary (2)

Car Wash (1976) $25,000
Superman III (1983) $4,000,000

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