Richard Pryor

Mostly Credited As: Richard Pryor
Birth Name: Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III
Date Of Birth: December 01, 1940 (Age 65)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: Peoria, Illinois
Date Of Death: December 10, 2005
Cause Of Death: heart attack (Los Angeles, California)
Height: 5' 10" (1.77 m)

Richard Pryor

A groundbreaking standup comic who became a major screen personality, Pryor's personal life has been more dramatic than anything a screenwriter could concoct. After dropping out of school, Pryor (who claimed to have grown up in a brothel) served a two-year hitch in the Army, then started working in nightclubs, eventually making a name for himself. Variety and talk-show appearances on TV led to occasional movie work (in 1967's The Busy Body 1968's Wild in the Streets and 1971's Dynamite Chicken) and a prominent supporting role with Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues. He also worked as one of the writers of Mel Brooks' classic comedy spoof Blazing Saddles.

As censorship barriers began to fall, Pryor came into his own; his profane but sharp-eyed observations about American life and the black experience made him hugely popular. An unexpurgated film record of a 1979 performance was released as Richard Pryor-Live in Concert which showcases the comedian at his very best. (Subsequent concert movies, glitzier to be sure, were not quite as good: 1982's Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip and 1983's Richard Pryor Here and Now.) Meanwhile, Hollywood was trying to find a way to capitalize on this formidable talent. Television was not ready for Pryor; his NBC comedy series was canceled after just a handful of shows in 1977. He seemed to fare best in supporting roles, as in Car Wash, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings, The Wizand Blue Collar, though even in that capacity he was often let down by bad material, as in California Suite (teamed with Bill Cosby), In God We Trust, and Wholly Moses. His starring films were a very mixed bag: Which Way Is Up?, Greased Lightning, Bustin' Loose, Some Kind of Hero, The Toy, Superman III, and Brewster's Millions. At their best, they gave Pryor a stage for some moments of high comedy; at their worst, they straitjacketed him into a Hollywood formula that suppressed his comic instincts.

One of Pryor's best opportunities came in the romantic comedy thriller Silver Streak (1976), in which he supported the film's star, Gene Wilder. Their scenes together were so good, and their chemistry so obvious, that they were reteamed (under Sidney Poitier's direction) for a costarring comedy, Stir Crazy, which was an even bigger hit. (Unfortunately, their reteamings a decade later, in 1989's See No Evil, Hear No Evil and 1991's Another You were pathetically poor.) Pryor's career came to a temporary halt at the start of the 1980s; while preparing a highly volatile cocaine mixture called freebase, he lit himself on fire, suffering third-degree burns over half his body. (He was about to start filming Mel Brooks' History of the World-Part I and was replaced at the last minute by Gregory Hines.)

The comedian made an amazing recovery, and reflected on his tumultuous life in the autobiographical comedy-drama Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, which he cowrote, produced, and directed. His subsequent films-Critical Condition, the bland but amusing Moving, and the Eddie Murphy fiasco Harlem Nights-were unable to restore the luster to his once red-hot movie career. Failing health (he is a victim of multiple sclerosis) made it difficult for him to get through his last film with Gene Wilder in 1991, but he managed somehow; it just seemed a shame to expend that effort for a movie that (like so many others before it) failed to make the most of his unique comic gift. By 1992, Pryor seemed to be headed for retirement. In addition to accolades for his screen work, Pryor has won several Grammy awards for his comedy recordings.

Pryor, who had been ill with multiple sclerosis, died at Encino Hospital near Los Angeles, at 7:41 a.m. PT. Jennifer Lee Pryor tried to revive him before paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital, she said. "He enjoyed life right up until the end," she said. "At the end there was a smile on his face." Pryor, who was born in Peoria, Illinois, on December 1, 1940, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986. "He was able to turn pain into comedy," his wife said. "He let the world see it, and that was his inspiration too. People said, 'If he can do it, I can do it.'

TV Appearances

Main cast 
Pryor's Place (1984)As: Himself
The Richard Pryor Show (1977)As: Himself
The Academy Awards (1953)As: Himself (Co-Host 1977/1983)
Episode Cast Credits 

E! True Hollywood Story (1996) 
  Richard Pryor 07x15: (Feb/02/2003) As Himself 

Malcolm & Eddie (1996) 
  Do the K.C. Hustle 01x10: (Nov/11/1996) As Uncle Bucky, [Special Guest Stars]

Chicago Hope (1994) 
  Stand 02x09: (Nov/20/1995) As Joe Springer 

Martin (1992) 
  Break Up (1) 01x18: (Feb/11/1993) As Himself, [Special Guest Stars]

Soul Train (1971) 
  Billy Preston/ Brenda Payton 06x24: (Jan/29/1977) As Himself 
  Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes/ The Southshore Commission 04x39: (Jun/21/1975) As Himself, [Guest Hosts]
  Friends of Distinction/ Timmy Thomas/ The Independents 02x23: (Mar/10/1973) As Himself 

Saturday Night Live (1975) 
  Richard Pryor/Gil-Scott Heron, Thalamamus Rasulala 01x07: (Dec/13/1975) As Himself (Host) 

The Midnight Special (1973) 
  Host: Richard Pryor 02x37: (May/24/1974) As Himself (Host) 
  Host: Richard Pryor 01x30: (Aug/17/1973) As Himself (Host) 

The Flip Wilson Show (1970) 
  Steve Lawrence, Richard Pryor, Kenny Livingston, Ketty Lester 04x17: (Feb/07/1974) As Himself 
  Tim Conway, Richard Pryor & Roman K 04x09: (Nov/29/1973) As Himself 
  Richard Pryor, Bobby Sandler, Ralph Edwards, Nat Purefoy 04x03: (Oct/04/1973) As Himself 
  Buddy Hackett, Ruth Buzzi, Richard Pryor, William Attmore 04x01: (Sep/20/1973) As Himself 

The Mod Squad (1968) 
  The Connection 05x01: (Sep/14/1972) As Cat Griffin, [Special Guest Stars]
  The Teeth of the Barracuda 01x01: (Sep/24/1968) As Himself 

The Partridge Family (1970) 
  Soul Club 01x18: (Jan/29/1971) As A. E. Simon 

The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) 
  Richard Pryor, Roy Clark 24x07: (Nov/01/1970) As Himself 
  Chet Atkins, George Carlin, Floyd Cramer 23x20: (Feb/08/1970) As Himself 
  Anna Maria Alberghetti, Liza Minnelli 22x09: (Dec/08/1968) As Himself 
  Jim Henson's Muppets, Pearl Bailey 22x03: (Oct/13/1968) As Himself 

ABC Stage 67 (1966) 
  A Time For Laughter: A Look at Negro Humor in America 01x24: (Apr/06/1967) As Himself 

The Wild Wild West (1965) 
  The Night of the Eccentrics 02x01: (Sep/16/1966) As Villar 
Crew Credits

Show Crew

The Richard Pryor Show (1977)• Executive Producer

Episode Crew

The Flip Wilson Show (1970) (Credited in 4 episodes from this show) 
Tony Randall, Bob & Ray, Lena Horne 04x18 Feb/21/1974 As: Writer
Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Lena Horne 02x11 Nov/25/1971 As: Writer
Lena Horne, George Carlin 01x24 Mar/11/1971 As: Writer
Lena Horne, Tony Randall 01x12 Dec/10/1970 As: Writer
Sanford and Son (1972) (Credited in 2 episodes from this show) 
Sanford and Son and Sister Makes Three 02x11 Dec/01/1972 As: Writer
The Dowry 02x03 Sep/29/1972 As: Writer
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Richard was married six times.

Richard had 2 sons and 3 daughters.

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