RICHARD PRYOR BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Richard Pryor was born on December 1st, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois with the birth name Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor III. He and his three siblings, were raised in his grandmothers brothel where his birth mother, Gertrude Thomas, worked as a prostitute. His birth father, Leroy Pryor was a bartender and also a professional boxer. At the age of ten his mother abandoned him and he continued to live with his siblings at his grandmothers brothel where he had a troubled childhood.
After being expelled from school when he was only fourteen years old he found work playing drums at a night club. When he was old enough, he joined the United States Army but most of his service was spent doing time in prison.
Soon after being discharged from military service, he relocated to New York City and found work performing in night clubs. He began working as a comic and then was given the chance to perform his act on a number of variety television shows such as, "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show" along with being offered work in Las Vegas.
By 1967 he made another career moving, relocating to Berkeley, California and signed with the comedy record label, Laff Records in 1970. He released his second album, "Craps" and then signed with Stax Records and released album number three, "That Nigger's Crazy" in 1974.
By the mid 70's he was getting work as a writer for such television shows as, "Sanford and Son", "The Flip Wilson Show" and a "Lily Tomlin" Special. He followed this with working as a host on, "Saturday Night Live" and by 1977 he as given his own show, "The Richard Pryor Show", however it only lasted four episodes before being cancelled.
It did not take too long for him to break into the film industry with roles on such films as, "Lady Sings the Blues", "The Mack", "Uptown Saturday Night", "Silver Streak", "Which Way is Up?", "Car Wash", "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings", "Blue Collar" and "The Toy" among many others.
Pryor then signed a five year contract with Columbia Pictures in 1983 and was seen on the big screen once again in such films as, "Superman III", "Brewster's Millions", "Stir Crazy", "Moving" and "See No Evil, Hear no Evil".
Although he was a comic that mostly used profanity in his acts, he was given the chance to host a children's television show called, "Pryor's Place" (1984), but it did not last long on the air.
Along with stand up comedy acts, and film roles he also made numerous television appearances and was honored with an Emmy for his guest role in the television series, "Chicago Hope".
Even though he was well known as a actor and comedian, many remember the media coverage in 1990 when Richard Pryor set himself on fire by pouring high-proof rum all over his body after a large amount of drug use. He had to undergo treatment at the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks Hospital for six weeks.
Although he was known as being a difficult man to work with on set, he did have a decent fan following and continued to get work in the entertainment industry. His film role, "Harlem Nights" in 1989 was so financially successful, it made three times of what it actually cost to film.
Some of his later career appearances were mostly cameo's due to his illness such as in, "Richard Pryor…Here and Now" (1983) and "The Norm Show" (2000).
Sadly, in 1986, Richard Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had to be confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. Along with fighting this illness he suffered a 2nd more severe heart attack in 1990 and had to undergo triple bypass surgery.
Pryor also was quite unsuccessful in his personal relationships, being married a total of seven times. Six out of the seven marriages lasted less then two years, only his last marriage to Jennifer Lee from June 29th, 2001 lasted until he passed away nine days after his sixty fifth birthday, on December 10th, 2005 in Encino, California after suffering another heart attack. Pryor left behind six children total, Richard Jr., Elizabeth, Rain, Steven, Franklin and Kelsey.
He did receive a number of honors throughout his career such as being awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. He was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was always very active in animal rights. Richard Pryer was cremated and his ashes were given to his family.
1997 Lost Highway
1996 Malcolm & Eddie
1996 Mad Dog Time
1995 Chicago Hope
1991 Another You
1991 The Three Muscatels
1989 Harlem Nights
1989 See No Evil, Hear No Evil
1987 Critical Condition
1986 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling
1985 Brewster's Millions
1983 Superman III
1982 The Toy
1982 Some Kind of Hero
1981 Bustin' Loose
1980 Stir Crazy
1980 In God We Tru$t
1980 Wholly Moses!
1979 The Muppet Movie
1978 California Suit
1978 The Wiz
1978 Blue Collar
1977 Which Way Is Up?
1977 Greased Lightning
1976 Silver Streak
1976 Car Wash
1976 The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings
1976 Adiós Amigo
1974 Uptown Saturday Night
1973 Some Call It Loving
1973 The Mack
1972 Lady Sings the Blues
1972 Mod Squad
1971 You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat
1971 The Partridge Family
1970 Carter's Army
1969 The Young Lawyers
1968 Wild in the Streets
1968 Uncle Tom's Fairy Tales
1967 ABC Stage 67
1967 The Busy Body