Richard Pryor (Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor)

Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor

Comedian. He is best remembered for his comedy routines that mixed profanity with social insight on racism in the United States, which were considered startling and radical when he first introduced it. Born in Peoria, Illinois, he would claim that he grew up in his grandmother’s brothel. Dropping out of high school, he joined the United States Army, serving two years, from 1958 to 1960. He then started working in nightclubs, becoming known for his comedy routines, and in 1964, got his first chance at national attention with a guest appearance on television. His first motion picture role came in 1967, with the film “The Busy Body” (1967). Occasional small roles continued in both television and the movies, until he got a prominent supporting role of the piano man in singer Diana Ross’s “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972). Originally selected to play the leading role of ‘Bart ‘in producer Mel Brooks’ film “Blazing Saddles” (1974), he was rejected due to his controversial standup comedy routines by the financers of the film, and the role went to actor Cleavon Little instead. However, Pryor was made a co-writer for the film script, and would go on to make a total of four films with Brooks. He had supporting roles in a number of subsequent films, including “The Wiz” (1978), “Wholly Moses!” (1980), “Stir Crazy” (1980), “The Toy” (1982), “Superman III” (1983), and “Brewster’s Millions” (1985). Married seven times, to five women, he would remarry two of his ex-wives in his lifetime. He battled drug and alcohol addiction on many occasion, and in 1980, he nearly lost his life when he caught on fire while freebasing cocaine, an incident that he later admitted was an attempt at suicide. After recovering from burns over half of his body, he would make light of the freebasing incident in his comedy routines. In 1986 he was diagnosed with from Multiple Sclerosis, suffering from it until his death in 2005. In 1995, he played an embittered multiple sclerosis patient in an episode of the hospital drama television show “Chicago Hope,” for which he won an Emmy nomination as Best Guest Star in a Drama Series. He also won a number of Grammy awards over the course of his career for his recorded comedy. Despite the toll that MS took on him, he died of a heart attack in his home in Los Angeles, California.


  • December, 01, 1940
  • Peoria, Illinois


  • December, 10, 2005
  • Los Angeles, California

Cause of Death

  • Heart attack



    • cremated, and his ashes were given to his family

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