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Redd Foxx Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (3) | Trivia (26) | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 9 December 1922St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Date of Death 11 October 1991Los Angeles, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameJohn Elroy Sanford
Nicknames Chicago Red
Zorro
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Redd Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous "Chitlin' Circuit" in the 1940s and 1950s. Foxx was one of the premier "blue humor" comedians. Blue humor was very dirty, too dirty for white audiences. For years his party albums were not available in white record stores. In the 1960s his records became available, although marginally in white record stores, leading to minor comedy work on The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show") and The Red Skelton Hour (1951), among other classic variety shows of the time. Foxx developed a fan base in the 1960s that led to increased notoriety. He received his own television series in 1972 called Sanford and Son (1972), which was a reworking of the British sitcom Steptoe and Son (1962). Foxx's character, Fred Sanford (was actually Foxx's brother's name), was a cranky old man who was set in his ways and would insult both friends and strangers at the drop of a hat. He ran a junkyard in Watts, a bad neighborhood in Los Angeles, with his son Lamont (played by Demond Wilson). The show broke down racial stereotypes and was a huge success, making Foxx and the show household names. Foxx fought a very public battle with the writers and producers of the show, claiming that they did not do enough to promote the black experience, and in general complained there were not enough black writers or producers in the entertainment industry. These highly publicized disputes led to the show faltering artistically, but not in the ratings. Foxx left the show in 1977 to accomplish his dream on ABC: his own variety show, which lasted less than a year. He also starred in the controversial film Norman... Is That You? (1976).

Foxx's trouble with the law and the Internal Revenue Service hampered his career in the early 1980s. He flopped yet again with the sitcom The Redd Foxx Show (1986) on ABC. He did, however, find success playing a ghost in the TV movie Ghost of a Chance (1987), with Dick Van Dyke. The late 1980s found Foxx on a rebound, as he starred with Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy in the popular Harlem Nights (1989), which showcased the three premiere black comedians of their respective generations. A whole new generation of comedians begin claiming Redd Foxx as a major influence on their careers, including Murphy and Pryor. Foxx looked like he was finding success 20 years after Sanford and Son (1972) with The Royal Family (1991). However, we will never know if the show would have been a success--while rehearsing for an episode, Foxx collapsed and was rushed to a hospital. He died in October of 1991. Redd Foxx will be remembered as a pioneering comedian who influenced generations of comedians and helped break down racial barriers in the the entertainment industry. His influence seems as strong as ever.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Scott Adams, msa0510@mail.ecu.edu

Spouse (4)

Ka Ho Cho (8 July 1991 - 11 October 1991) (his death)
Yun Chi Chung (31 December 1976 - 11 September 1981) (divorced)
Betty Jean Harris (22 July 1956 - 1975) (divorced)
Evelyn Killebrew (1948 - 1951) (divorced)

Trade Mark (3)

Faked Heart Attacks Frequently
His catchphrase, "You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join ya, honey!"
Gruff, deep voice

Trivia (26)

Comedian.
Died of heart attack on the set of The Royal Family (1991).
Was one-quarter Seminole Indian.
Interred at Palm Memorial Gardens, Las Vegas, Nevada, in the Devotion Section, Lawn Space 4091, 311 G.
Was the only artist to be invited to Elvis Presley's wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, on May 1, 1967.
One of the few performers to have the lead role in a television show on the three main networks. He was the lead in Sanford and Son, on NBC, the Royal Family, on CBS, and in the Redd Foxx show, and the Redd Foxx Comedy Hour on ABC.
Appeared on Flip (1970) on January 13th, 1972, the night before the classic Sanford and Son (1972) debuted. The two shows were on the same network: NBC.
During his early life as a dishwasher, he was called "Chicago Red" to distinguish him from his friend "Detroit Red". "Detroit Red" would later become famous as the political activist-social critic and Black nationalist known as Malcolm X.
Due to Foxx's financial woes (the IRS seized and auctioned off his assets in 1989), his widow couldn't pay for his funeral, so Eddie Murphy footed the bill, giving Foxx a lavish, star-studded send-off.
Was expelled from one school on the first day for throwing a book at a teacher.
Had no biological children, but when he married Betty Jean Harris, he adopted her daughter, Debraca Denise.
One of his greatest assets (and perhaps, weaknesses) was his generosity to others. His most famous character, Fred Sanford, was named in honor of his brother, and many of the actors and character names on the television series Sanford and Son (1972) were people who inspired him thoughout his life.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 165-167. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Fred Sanford, Foxx's character on Sanford and Son (1972), was ranked #42 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
On Sanford and Son (1972) one of the main characteristics of his character Fred Sanford was the he had a weak heart and that he always knew that the day for "The Big One" would eventually come. It was a trademark of the show that he would fake a heart attack in the face of some shocking news. In one of the bitterest ironies when Redd Foxx finally did experience the "The Big One," it was a heart attack and those around him thought he was just joking around and didn't seek immediate help.
Briefly attended Du Sable High School in Chicago with future Mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington.
Huge fan of the "Little Rascals" and worked frequently with Tommy Bond who played the bully "Butch". Foxx often wore a "Butch" style golf cap in many of his shows because of this.
He was nicknamed "Zorro" which is Spanish for "fox".
His stage name came from his childhood nickname "Red" which referred to his reddish hair and skin. He took the name "Foxx" as a tribute to Chicago Cubs player Jimmie Foxx and as a reference to the red fox.
Foxx turned down a role in The Great White Hope (1970), which was inspired by the career and struggles against racism of former heavyweight champ Jack Johnson. Foxx knew Johnson and refused the role as he believed the play (which won the Pulitzer Prize) had white-washed his old friend.
Best remembered by the public for his starring role as Fred G. Sanford on Sanford and Son (1972).
Acting mentor and friend of Demond Wilson.
Was the third television father to have died after Danny Thomas and Michael Landon in the same year, 1991.
Appeared on the front cover of TV Guide 5 times.
Began his show Sanford and Son (1972) at age 49.

Personal Quotes (6)

[In 1972]: I've been trying to get into the Royal Box in New York for years. They say I'm too dirty, my material is too blue. But I think Redd, the whites and blue can be a nice combination.
[Who at the very last minute finally learning to sleep in the evening]: It was awful at first. I'd lie awake all night, knowing that I had to rehearse 'Sanford,' the next day. But I was geared to being up late, I only caught a couple hours sleep each night for the first few months.
[Who had to adjust his sleeping patterns before rehearsing on the set of Sanford and Son (1972)]: When I worked in clubs, I had to be alert until 2, maybe 3 in the morning. I found it best to sleep during the daytime.
Fred was a funny kid, and I got a lot of humor from him. For a while, we were in a Catholic school up in Milwaukee, and Fred used to get laughs pulling an electric iron around the floor, like dragging a dog on a leash. Every day he had a new thing going with the iron. Fred was a great ball player too. He tried out with the Chicago White Sox, but that was years before Jackie Robinson made the break, and he was too early.
Junk runs in the family. My granddad was a junk man in St. Louis and so was my uncle.
I'm a Sagittarian, see, I can't be fenced in. I been living in Las Vegas, greatest city in the world. I look out my window for 100 miles. In Vegas, there's nothing to do but gamble, drink or have sex. I have two of 'em.

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