Dick Gregory
American activist
Dick Gregory
Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur. Gregory is an influential American comic who has used his performance skills to convey to both white and black audiences his political message on civil rights. His social satire helped change the way white Americans perceived African American comedians since he first performed in public.
Biography
Dick Gregory's personal information overview.
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News
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Thursday's TV Highlights: 'Inside the Actors Studio' on Bravo
LATimes - 16 days
SERIES The History of Comedy The premiere of this new documentary series profiles groundbreaking comics, including George Carlin, Dick Gregory and Lenny Bruce, who embraced the risqué side of comedy and risked their careers, prison and more to battle censorship. 7 and 10 p.m. CNN The Big Bang...
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LATimes article
First Nighter: Joe Morton as Dick Gregory in "Turn Me Loose," The Irondale Ensemble Takes on Shakespeare in "1599," The Sluggish "A Better Place" and "Cal in Camo"
Huffington Post - 9 months
Dick Gregory isn't playing himself in Turn Me Loose, at the Westside Theatre, although, at 83, he certainly could. Right now Joe Morton, whom current tv viewers know from Scandal, is impersonating Gregory in the Gretchen Law play that also has John Carlin taking on several roles, among them William F. Buckley. The beauty of this incendiary piece, directed with punch by John Gould Rubin, is that the manner in which Law has transferred Gregory's life to the stage has him transition from one of the first black stand-up comics gaining national attention in the 1960s--much thanks to his appearances with the now nearly forgotten Jack Paar--to an activist who stopped telling jokes because he increasingly came to believe there was less and less amusing about the condition of African-Americans in contemporary United States society. He'll slip in a joke about America being the one place on the planet where a poor black boy like Michael Jackson could become "a rich white man," but more ofte ...
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Huffington Post article
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Believes MJ Chose 'Commerce Over Conscience'
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has never been afraid to be unpopular if it meant taking a stand for what he believed in -- even if his legacy in the history books was at stake. This past week, he expressed sadness and just a hint of judgment when he said the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan, doesn’t share those same priorities. In a conversation with NPR’s Michel Martin last weekend, the former Laker essentially pitted his own willingness to “speak out” against MJ’s well-noted reluctance to appear controversial. Asked about Jordan’s reported refusal to endorse a Democratic senatorial candidate because “Republicans buy sneakers too,” Abdul-Jabbar went on the offensive. “You can't be afraid of losing shoe sales if you're worried about your civil and human rights,” he said. “He took commerce over conscience. It's unfortunate for him, but he's gotta live with it.” Ask Abdul-Jabbar, and he’ll tell you that listening to his “conscience” has eclipsed nearly every other ...
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Huffington Post article
Funny Is Funny: Homophobia, Misogyny and the Lack of Diversity in Comedy
Huffington Post - over 1 year
I'll never forget that hot summer night, sitting in the back of a crowded bar with poor A/C, leaned over the table, reviewing my set list with the light from the muted television mounted against the wall. I was up next and full of my normal preshow jitters. As I stuffed my set list into my pocket, I remember having my train of thought jolted to a sudden halt, by hearing the comic up on the mic scream "What the fuck?! They're gonna give me AIDS through the wall!" I was so into preparation for my set that I wasn't paying attention to what he was saying before, but that got my attention. He went on for another 10 minutes about his gay neighbors, who he constantly referred to as "butt bandits" and "fags" to the shock and amusement of the crowd and made jokes about how scared he was of catching AIDS through the wall living next to them. I couldn't believe it, I'd heard gay jokes before, and told my own share of crass jokes and bragged about how much pussy I was getting (that's what male c ...
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Huffington Post article
Talking to Dick Gregory: Comedy, Selma and Cosby
Chicago Times - almost 2 years
Talking to Dick Gregory these days is a chore. Not because the man rambles — he's 82 and has earned the right. Not because every question for the famously philosophical comedian and activist — the self-proclaimed first black satirist — leads down a new rabbit hole of metaphor and irony and paranoia...
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Chicago Times article
Religion And The Beatles: Listening To The Fab 4's Spiritual Sounds 50 Years Later
Huffington Post - about 3 years
The Beatles have had a diverse, ever-evolving spiritual journey since they first graced America with their music 50 years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show. From their controversial comment about being "more popular than Jesus" to later forays into eastern religion, the Fab Four have always been interested in getting higher. A look at the lyrics of some of their songs provides a glimpse into their religious interests and influences. Let It Be "When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me Speaking words of wisdom, let it be." Paul McCartney explained that he wrote this song after his mother, Mary, appeared to him in a dream. However, the "Mother Mary" moniker is interpreted by many as a Biblical reference to Mary, mother of Jesus. Across The Universe "Jai guru deva om Nothing's gonna change my world" The Beatles became interested in Transcendental Meditation in the late 1960s, particularly through the influence of leader Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The mantra "ja ...
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Huffington Post article
Dillard Brings Brain Food To The Masses With Renowned HBCU Lecture Series
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Dillard University will welcome renowned gospel artist Kirk Franklin to the campus on Feb 6., an appearance made possible by the university’s signature ‘Brain Food’ presidential lecture series. Franklin will be the latest in a cast of diverse, distinguished presenters on the historic New Orleans HBCU campus this semester, joining Martin Luther King Jr. speechwriter Clarence Jones, CNN Political Analyst Sunny Hostin, and faith-based social justice activist Jim Wallis. They are a part of a lecture series renaissance on HBCU campuses around the country, thanks to the success of its modern-day patron saint, Dillard President Walter Kimbrough. A scholar on Black Greek-lettered organizations and a veteran presenter on organizational hazing, Kimbrough helped to revive the HBCU lecture series as the former president of Philander Smith College. “It’s a great opportunity for students to hear key people of the day,” says Kimbrough, who assumed the Dillard presidency in July 2012. “HBCU stude ...
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Huffington Post article
New Portrait Honors Clyde Kennard, Forgotten Civil Rights Pioneer
Huffington Post - over 3 years
By Jerry Mitchell After the terrorist attack on 9-11 and the nation's response, anger and grief overwhelmed artist Robert Shetterly. "It finally occurred to me that if I stopped obsessing about (then-Vice President) Dick Cheney and began surrounding myself with Americans I admired, I'd feel better," he said. "I painted Walt Whitman, our essential democrat, then Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth." His latest portrait is of an American he never knew before--Clyde Kennard, whose portrait was unveiled Thursday night in the nation's capital at an event sponsored by Teaching for Change and Americans Who Tell the Truth. "It is one of my goals to find stories like Clyde's and resurrect them -- not simply to honor them, but to inspire others, to fill in lost history," Shetterly said. "Many people know about some of the people who integrated schools in the South in the 1950s and '60s. What they don't know is who tried first and failed, was blocked, was martyred." He said he hopes Ken ...
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Huffington Post article
Listen to This Book: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975
Huffington Post - over 3 years
"It's not the best book of its kind, it's the only book of its kind" proclaims archivist, music producer, scholar, A & R Director, journalist, and author Pat Thomas. "There have been plenty of books exploring the sociopolitical meaning of the Black Power Movement and there are obviously tons of music books out there -- but never before has anyone blended the two -- especially with a focus on the actual political recordings of the era." Thomas' riveting Fantagraphics book (and companion CD/MP3 on Light in the Attic Records), aptly titled Listen Whitey: The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 is a stunning culmination of Thomas' five year journey to compile the definitive aural document of the Black Power Movement. History continues to repeat itself. Many crucial issues of the era which Thomas' tome vividly recounts: war, racism, sexism, economic inequality, and concern for the environment, among others, are still with us in 2013. And the music and poetry inspired by the Bla ...
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Huffington Post article
ADL Says Dick Gregory Comparison between Walmart and Nazi Regime "Inappropriate and Offensive"
Yahoo News - over 3 years
WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern at remarks made by comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory in front of the DC City Council Building on September 17 at a rally for the District of Columbia's s living wage bill. During his speech to more than 100 people attending the rally, Gregory reportedly stated that "When you look at Hitler and those thugs, you can put Walmart right next to them."David C. ...
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Yahoo News article
Jack Healey: Anniversaries and Ongoing Efforts: Marching on Washington, Making Music for the World and Expanding Human Rights
Huffington Post - over 3 years
The airwaves were abuzz with images and sounds of hope past and present yesterday. August 28, 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In less than a week, we'll also pass the 25th year mark since the Human Rights Now Music Tour. The progress we've made can give us grounds for hope and grounds to carry the struggle onward. There can be little doubt that some of the most intractable barriers to equality in the United States found their watershed moment in the March. Mass action created a tipping point for both the nation and its government that the disparities in civil rights were no longer acceptable in a nation that demanded greater equality. Twenty five years later, we found ourselves inspired to try to humbly follow the lead and inspiration of the March to embark on a tour to raise awareness about human rights abuses globally. Who was the inspiration? There had been the role of Eleavor Roosevelt in crafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, t ...
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Huffington Post article
Video: Famous faces at the March on Washington
CBS News - over 3 years
Singer Lena Horne, actor Burt Lancaster, and comedian Dick Gregory were among the stars who attended the March on Washington, August 28, 1963.
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CBS News article
Jonathan Kim: ReThink Review: When Comedy Went to School - Comedy History in the Catskills
Huffington Post - over 3 years
I've been a stand up comedy hobbyist and enthusiast for several years now, though I'll admit that I'm not terribly versed on comedy history, which for me started with listening to a cassette of Eddie Murphy's Delirious on the ride home from a Boy Scout campout. The clunkily-named documentary When Comedy Went to School traces the roots of modern stand up to a rather unlikely place -- the resorts of New York state's Catskill mountains (like the one famously portrayed in the movie Dirty Dancing) where Jewish families in the 1930s through the 1960s would flee New York City's heat and humidity during the summertime for the Catskills, which was America's biggest resort area at the time. It was there that comedy icons like Jerry Lewis, Jackie Mason, Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, and even Woody Allen were able to work and hone material during weeklong stands in front of packed, tough crowds, creating the style and rhythm of what we now consider modern stand up comedy. Watch the tra ...
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Huffington Post article
Kitty Kelley: The March to the Dream
Huffington Post - over 3 years
President Kennedy had to be pushed but after two bloody summers of Freedom Riders, television coverage of Bull Connors' police dogs chewing children to bits, police men clubbing peaceful demonstrators and fire hoses slamming children against jagged brick buildings, leaving them torn and bleeding, JFK found his voice. He watched with disgust as Alabama Governor George Wallace, who had pledged "Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever," threatened to stand in the school house door to prevent two black students from integrating the state's all-white university. That evening, June 11, 1963, John F. Kennedy ennobled his presidency with an address to the nation on equal rights: We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the Scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution.... If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best schools available, if ...
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Huffington Post article
Hollywood, Indie Worlds Come Together For Ebert Tribute
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
A week after the death of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, the worlds of independent film and Tinseltown will come together for a special memorial tribute at the iconic Chicago Theatre. The "Celebration of Life" program spotlighting the Chicago Sun-Times critic's prolific life as a writer, TV host, author and other ventures is drawing a mix of "industry" players and long-time Ebert friends. (Read Ebert's final film review.) Among the attendees announced are "The Fugitive" director Andy Davis, fellow Sun-Times critic and former co-host Richard Roeper, former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner and disabilities rights pioneer Marca Bristo. ABC Chicago has a picture of the marquee outside the theatre, which reads "Roger Ebert: A Celebration Of Life With Love From Chaz 1942 — 2013." Ebert's widow Chaz and their granddaughter, Raven, are also slated to offer personal tributes along with music from gospel choirs, and specially-edited footage from the old “Siskel and Ebert” t ...
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Huffington Post article
Legendary Black-Owned Radio Station Embarks On Milestone
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
Next weekend legendary independent Chicago radio station, WVON will celebrate its 50th anniversary of broadcasting on the airwaves. Launched in April 1963, the Urban talk formatted station evolved from the go-to platform for Motown Records and Chess Records to being dubbed as "The Talk of Chicago" and "The Voice of the Nation." Iconic musician Roy Ayers is set to kick off the two-day celebration with a special performance on April 5. The performance will be followed by the station’s “IMPACT 50” Grand Gala, which is hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and morning personality, Matt McGill and includes a performance by Grammy Award-winner Toni Braxton. WVON President, Melody Spann admitted that the commemorative celebration is exhilarating. “I am over the top with excitement about this historic time,” she said in a statement provided to the Huffington Post. “The company has gone the distance. Two years ago I didn’t think we would make it to this day, due to the state of the e ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Dick Gregory
    FORTIES
  • 2016
    Joe Morton played Dick Gregory in 2016 in the play Turn Me Loose at the Westside Theatre in Manhattan.
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  • 2014
    In 2014 Dick Gregory updated his original 4X formula which was the basis for the Bahamian Diet and created his new and improved "Caribbean Diet for Optimal Health".
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  • 2010
    Gregory announced a hunger strike on September 10, 2010, saying in a commentary published by the conspiracy website Centre for Research on Globalisation in Montreal that he doubted the official U.S. report about the attacks on September 11, 2001. "One thing I know is that the official government story of those events, as well as what took place that day at the Pentagon, is just that, a story. This story is not the truth, but far from it. I was born on October 12, 1932. I am announcing today that I will be consuming only liquids beginning Sunday until my eightieth birthday in 2012 and until the real truth of what truly happened on that day emerges and is publicly known."
    More Details Hide Details In 1984 he founded Health Enterprises, Inc., a company that distributed weight loss products. With this company, Gregory made efforts to improve the life expectancy of African Americans, which he believes is being hindered by poor nutrition and drug and alcohol abuse. In 1985 Gregory introduced the "Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet", a powdered diet mix. He launched the weight-loss powder at the Whole Life Expo in Boston under the slogan "It's cool to be healthy". The diet mix, drunk three times a day, was said to provide rapid weight loss. Gregory received a multimillion-dollar distribution contract to retail the diet.
  • THIRTIES
  • 2006
    Gregory attended and spoke at the funeral of James Brown on December 30, 2006, in Augusta, Georgia.
    More Details Hide Details Gregory is an occasional guest on the Mark Thompson's "Make It Plain" Sirius Channel 146 Radio Show from 3pm to 6pm PST. Gregory appeared on The Alex Jones Show on September 14, 2010, March 19, 2012, and April 1, 2014. Gregory gave the keynote Address for Black History Month at Bryn Mawr College on February 28, 2013. His take-away message to the students was to never accept injustice. "Once I accept injustice, I become injustice. For example, paper mills give off a terrible stench. But the people who work there don't smell it. Remember, Dr. King was assassinated when he went to work for garbage collectors. To help them as workers to enforce their rights. They couldn't smell the stench of the garbage all around them anymore. They were used to it. They would eat their lunch out of a brown bag sitting on the garbage truck. One day, a worker was sitting inside the back of the truck on top of the garbage, and got crushed to death because no one knew he was there."
  • 2003
    In 2003, Gregory and Cornel West wrote letters on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to Kentucky Fried Chicken's CEO, asking that the company improve their animal-handling procedures.
    More Details Hide Details At a Civil Rights rally marking the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Gregory criticized the United States, calling it "the most dishonest, ungodly, unspiritual nation that ever existed in the history of the planet. As we talk now, America is 5 percent of the world's population and consumes 96 percent of the world's hard drugs".
  • TWENTIES
  • 1999
    Gregory was diagnosed with lymphoma in late 1999.
    More Details Hide Details He said he was treating the cancer with herbs, vitamins, and exercise, which he believes kept the cancer in remission. Since the late 1980s, Gregory has been a figure in the health food industry by advocating for a raw fruit and vegetable diet. He wrote the introduction to Viktoras Kulvinskas' book Survival into the 21st Century. Gregory first became a vegetarian in the 1960s, and has lost a considerable amount of weight by going on extreme fasts, some lasting upwards of 50 days. He developed a diet drink called "Bahamian Diet Nutritional Drink" and went on TV shows advocating his diet and to help the morbidly obese.
  • 1998
    In 1998 Gregory spoke at the celebration of the birthday of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. with President Bill Clinton in attendance.
    More Details Hide Details Not long after, the President told Gregory's long-time friend and public relations Consultant Steve Jaffe, "I love Dick Gregory; he is one of the funniest people on the planet." They spoke of how Gregory had made a comment on Dr. King's birthday that broke everyone into laughter, when he noted that the President made Speaker Newt Gingrich ride "in the back of the plane," on an Air Force One trip overseas.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1980
    Gregory was an outspoken activist during the US Embassy Hostage Crisis in Iran. In 1980 he traveled to Tehran to attempt to negotiate the hostages' release and engaged in a public hunger strike there, weighing less than 100 pounds (45 kg) when he returned to the United States.
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  • 1979
    On July 21, 1979, Gregory appeared at the Amandla Festival where Bob Marley, Patti LaBelle, and Eddie Palmieri, amongst others, had performed.
    More Details Hide Details Gregory gave a speech before Marley's performance, blaming President Carter, and showing his support for the international Anti-Apartheid movements. Gregory and Mark Lane conducted landmark research into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which helped move the U.S. House Select Assassinations Committee to investigate the murder, along with that of John F. Kennedy. Lane was author of conspiracy theory books such as Rush to Judgment. The pair wrote the King conspiracy book Code Name Zorro, which postulated that convicted assassin James Earl Ray did not act alone. Gregory has also argued that the moon landing was faked and the commonly accepted account of the 9/11 attacks is incorrect, among other conspiracy theories.
  • 1978
    Gregory is an outspoken feminist, and in 1978 joined Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug, Margaret Heckler, Barbara Mikulski, and other suffragists to lead the National ERA March for Ratification and Extension, a march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the United States Capitol of over 100,000 on Women's Equality Day (August 26), 1978 to demonstrate for a ratification deadline extension for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, and for the ratification of the ERA.
    More Details Hide Details The march was ultimately successful in extending the deadline to June 30, 1982, and Gregory joined other activists to the Senate for celebration and victory speeches by pro-ERA Senators, Members of Congress, and activists. The ERA narrowly failed to be ratified by the extended ratification date.
  • 1975
    Shortly after this time Gregory became an outspoken critic of the Warren Commission findings that President John Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. On March 6, 1975, Gregory and assassination researcher Robert Groden appeared on Geraldo Rivera's late night ABC talk show Goodnight America.
    More Details Hide Details An important historical event happened that night when the famous Zapruder film of JFK's assassination was shown to the public on TV for the first time. The public's response and outrage to its showing led to the forming of the Hart-Schweiker investigation, which contributed to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, which resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.
  • OTHER
  • 1968
    Gregory unsuccessfully ran for President of the United States in 1968 as a write-in candidate of the Freedom and Peace Party, which had broken off from the Peace and Freedom Party.
    More Details Hide Details He garnered 47,097 votes (including one from Hunter S. Thompson) with fellow activist Mark Lane as his running mate in some states, David Frost in others, and Dr. Benjamin Spock in Virginia and Pennsylvania garnering more than the party he had left. The Freedom and Peace Party also ran other candidates, including Beulah Sanders for New York State Senate and Flora Brown for New York State Assembly. His efforts landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents. Gregory then wrote the book Write Me In about his presidential campaign. One interesting anecdote therein relates the story of a publicity stunt that came out of Operation Breadbasket in Chicago where the campaign had printed dollar bills with Gregory's image on them, some of which made it into circulation, causing considerable problems, but priceless publicity. The majority of these bills were quickly seized by the federal government. A large contributing factor to the seizure came from the bills resembling authentic US currency enough that they worked in many dollar-cashing machines of the time. Gregory avoided being charged with a federal crime, later joking that the bills couldn't really be considered US currency because "everyone knows a black man will never be on a US bill." For modest prices the bills are still readily available from online auction sites.
  • 1967
    Gregory began his political career by running against Richard J. Daley for the mayoralty of Chicago in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details Though he did not emerge victorious, this would not prove to be the end of his dalliances in electoral politics.
  • 1964
    In 1964, Gregory became more involved in civil rights activities, activism against the Vietnam War, economic reform, anti-drug issues, conspiracy theories, and others.
    More Details Hide Details As a part of his activism, he went on several hunger strikes and campaigns in America and overseas.
  • 1963
    Active in the Civil Rights Movement, on October 7, 1963, Gregory came to Selma, Alabama, and spoke for two hours on a public platform two days before the voter registration drive known as "Freedom Day" (October 7, 1963).
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  • 1959
    Gregory met his wife Lillian Smith at an African-American club; they married in 1959.
    More Details Hide Details They had eleven children (including one son, Richard Jr., who died at two months): Michele, Lynne, Pamela, Paula, Stephanie (aka Xenobia), Gregory, Christian, Miss, Ayanna, and Yohance. He has been criticized for being an absent father. In a 2000 interview with The Boston Globe, Gregory was quoted as saying, "People ask me about being a father and not being there. I say, 'Jack the Ripper had a father. Hitler had a father. Don't talk to me about family.'"
    In 1959, Gregory landed a job as master of ceremonies at the Roberts Show Club.
    More Details Hide Details Gregory performed as a comedian in small, primarily black-patronized nightclubs, while working for the United States Postal Service during the daytime. He was one of the first black comedians to gain widespread acclaim performing for white audiences. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Gregory describes the history of black comics as limited: "Blacks could sing and dance in the white night clubs but weren't allowed to stand flat-footed and talk to white folks, which is what a comic does." In 1961, while working at the black-owned Roberts Show Bar in Chicago, he was spotted by Hugh Hefner performing the following material before a largely white audience: Gregory attributes the launch of his career to Hugh Hefner, who watched him perform at Herman Roberts Show Bar. Based on that performance, Hefner hired Gregory to work at the Chicago Playboy Club as a replacement for comedian Professor Irwin Corey.
  • 1958
    In 1958, Gregory opened a nightclub called the Apex Club in Illinois.
    More Details Hide Details The club failed, landing Gregory in financial hardship.
  • 1956
    After being discharged in 1956 he returned to the university but did not receive a degree.
    More Details Hide Details With a desire to perform comedy professionally, he moved to Chicago.
  • 1954
    He was drafted in 1954 while attending Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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    His college career was interrupted for two years in 1954 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army.
    More Details Hide Details The Army was where he got his start in comedy, entering and winning several Army talent shows at the urging of his commanding officer, who had taken notice of Gregory's penchant for joking. In 1956, Gregory briefly returned to SIU after his discharge, but dropped out because he felt that the university "didn't want me to study, they wanted me to run." In the hopes of performing comedy professionally, Gregory moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he became part of a new generation of black comedians that included Nipsey Russell, Bill Cosby, and Godfrey Cambridge, all of whom broke with the minstrel tradition, which presented stereotypical black characters. Gregory drew on current events, especially racial issues, for much of his material: "Segregation is not all bad. Have you ever heard of a collision where the people in the back of the bus got hurt?"
  • 1932
    Born on October 12, 1932.
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Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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