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Richard Pryor Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (7)  | Trade Mark (3)  | Trivia (42)  | Personal Quotes (15)  | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in Peoria, Illinois, USA
Died in Encino, 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 on December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois, the son of Gertrude L. (Thomas) and LeRoy "Buck Carter" Pryor. His mother, a prostitute, abandoned him when he was 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 Trust (or Gimme That Prime Time Religion) (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 Pryor (June 2001 - 10 December 2005) ( his death)
Flynn Belaine (1 April 1990 - 1991) ( divorced)
Flynn Belaine (10 October 1986 - 1987) ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Jennifer Lee Pryor (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 (24 August 1961 - 1962) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (3)

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
His distinctive heavy mustache

Trivia (42)

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.
In 1998, he won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
He served in the United States Army from 1958 to 1960, but spent virtually the entire stint in an army prison. According to a 1999 profile about Pryor in The New Yorker, Pryor was incarcerated for an incident that occurred while he was stationed in West Germany. Angered that a white soldier was overly amused at the racially charged scenes of Imitation of Life (1959), Pryor and several other black soldiers beat and stabbed him, although not fatally.
Mother, Gertrude Thomas, passed away when Pryor was 27 years old.
Children: Renee Pryor, Richard Pryor Jr., Elizabeth Pryor, Rain Pryor, Stephen Pryor, Kelsey Pryor and Franklin Pryor (Mason Pryor).
Father, Buck Prior (aka LeRoy Carter), was a bartender, boxer and World War II veteran, who passed away when Richard was age 28.
Claimed to have seen the film The Man in the Glass Booth (1975) 40 times. His future wife Jennifer Lee Pryor had a role in the film.
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 could not secure financing for the project. Brooks made Pryor a co-writer, and Cleavon Little played Bart.
He was originally considered for the role of Billy Ray Valentine in Trading Places (1983), before Eddie Murphy ultimately won the role.
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: Flynn Belaine (1990) and Jennifer Lee Pryor (2001).
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 limousine drivers was Freddy Soto, who later went became a stand-up comedian. He also passed away in 2005.
Had appeared in Superman III (1983), the only movie 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.
He was considered for Eddie Murphy's roles in 48 Hrs. (1982), Trading Places (1983) (where he would have been reunited with Gene Wilder) and Beverly Hills Cop (1984).
Admitted that he did Superman III (1983) and The Toy (1982) purely for the money.
Suffered a mild heart attack in November 1977. He passed away only nine days after his 65th birthday.
At age 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, 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.
He is a second cousin, once removed, of rapper and actor Ludacris. Richard's maternal great-grandparents, William A. Craig and Nancy, were also Ludacris's maternal great-great-grandparents.
Had starred with Gene Wilder in four movies: Silver Streak (1976), Stir Crazy (1980), See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) and Another You (1991).
He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6438 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on May 20, 1993.
He was originally going to star in A Fine Mess (1986) opposite Burt Reynolds.
He was briefly attached to star in Malcolm X (1992) during the early production stages.
He was scheduled to appear on The Muppet Show: Chris Langham (1981) until his notorious freebasing suicide attempt made that appointment impossible. Staff writer Chris Langham had to substitute.
He and Margot Kidder had an affair while working on Some Kind of Hero (1982) together.
He was the first black person to host Saturday Night Live (1975).
He missed out on two roles that went to Gregory Hines. He was supposed to play Josephus in History of the World: Part I (1981), but had to drop out due to his freebasing accident. He offered the role of Sandman Williams in Gregory Hines, but his asking price was too high.
In a 2005 British poll to find "The Comedian's Comedian", Pryor was voted the 10th-greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
In 2018, Quincy Jones and Jennifer Lee Pryor claimed that Pryor had a sexual relationship with Marlon Brando, and that Pryor was open about his bisexuality with his friends. Pryor's daughter Rain later disputed the claim. In his autobiography, Pryor admitted to having a two-week sexual relationship with a transvestite, which he called "two weeks of being gay".
He hated Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales (1969), a short film he appeared in when he was starting his stand-up career, so much he destroyed as much as he could of the original negatives.
He was due to star in The Sting II (1983) opposite Lily Tomlin, but they both dropped out.
He was going to star in Bird (1988) when the project was at Paramount Pictures.
Posthumously inducted into the International Mustache Hall of Fame in the category Film & Television (2017).
Was friends with Bill Cosby and Redd Foxx.

Personal Quotes (15)

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."]
[observation, 1967] I never thought about not making it. But the 'it' had nothing to do with show business. The 'it' I'm trying to make is me.

Salary (2)

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

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