Richard Pryor

Comedian and Actor
Born Dec 1, 1940

Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor was an American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic, writer, and MC. Pryor was known for uncompromising examinations of racism and topical contemporary issues, which employed colorful vulgarities, and profanity, as well as racial epithets. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Pryor.


1940 Birth Born on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel, where his mother, Gertrude L. (Thomas), practiced prostitution. … Read More


1958 17 Years Old His first professional performance was playing drums at a night club. Pryor served in the U.S. Army from 1958 to 1960, but spent virtually the entire stint in an army prison. … Read More


1963 - 1967 2 More Events
1968 27 Years Old His first comedy recording, the eponymous 1968 debut release on the Dove/Reprise label, captures this particular period, tracking the evolution of Pryor's routine. … Read More
1969 28 Years Old In 1969, Pryor moved to Berkeley, California, where he immersed himself in the counterculture and rubbed elbows with the likes of Huey P. Newton and Ishmael Reed.
1970 29 Years Old He signed with the comedy-oriented independent record label Laff Records in 1970, and in 1971 recorded his second album, Craps (After Hours). … Read More


1973 - 1976 4 More Events
It became his third consecutive Gold album, and he collected his third consecutive Grammy for Best Comedic Recording for the album in 1977. … Read More
1979 38 Years Old In 1979, at the height of his success, Pryor visited Africa. … Read More
1980 39 Years Old Before his horribly-damaging 1980 freebasing incident (see below), Pryor was about to start filming Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I (1981), but was replaced at the last minute by Gregory Hines. … Read More


1983 42 Years Old In 1983, Pryor signed a five-year contract with Columbia Pictures for US$40 million and he started his own production company, Indigo Productions. … Read More
1986 45 Years Old He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986.
1990 49 Years Old In 1990, Pryor suffered a second and more severe heart attack and underwent triple heart bypass surgery. … Read More


1998 57 Years Old In 1998, Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. … Read More
2000 59 Years Old In early 2000, Pryor appeared in the cold open of The Norm Show in the episode entitled "Norm vs. The Boxer". … Read More


2001 60 Years Old In 2001, he remarried Jennifer Lee, who had also become his manager.
2002 61 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2002, a television documentary entitled The Funny Life of Richard Pryor depicted Pryor's life and career. … Read More
After going through the tapes and getting Richard's blessing, Jennifer Lee Pryor gave Rhino Records access to the tapes in 2004. … Read More
The first five tracks on the 2005 compilation CD Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966–1974), recorded in 1966 and 1967, capture Pryor in this period.
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