Richard Pryor
American comedian and actor
Richard Pryor
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.
Biography
Richard Pryor's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Richard Pryor from around the web
American Beauties: The Pleasures of a Writer Who Was ‘Richard Pryor on Paper’
NYTimes - about 1 month
Charles Wright’s three autobiographical novels about a young black intellectual trying to make it in New York City are ripe for rediscovery.
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NYTimes article
CNN's 'The History of Comedy' Is Funny How?
Huffington Post - about 2 months
President Donald Trump derides CNN as fake news. Does that mean "The History of Comedy," an eight-part documentary series premiering on the network Thurs. Feb. 9, is fake jokes? No, this is the real deal; a deep dive into a century of one-liners, pratfalls, and social commentary; of vaudeville, burlesque and nightclubs, of stand-up, satire and silliness. As the title of the first episode, "F***ing Funny," indicates, don't expect the decorum of Ken Burns' "The Civil War," or a strict chronology for that matter. Of the first three episodes viewed, each is more about context, how we got from Lenny Bruce to Louis C.K., from Jean Carroll (forgotten today but an acknowledged inspiration to Lily Tomlin) to Sarah Silverman, and from how comedians take their life into their own hands every time they go on stage, as Larry David observes in episode three, to what Maria Bamford celebrates as "the triumph of a good joke." "It's about how comedians work, the process, and who broke b ...
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Huffington Post article
3 Things We Wish Bill Maher Would
Huffington Post - about 2 months
First of all, a confession: I probably agree with 90% of Bill's Maher's political/ideological positions, so the piddling complaints that follow aren't the result of any fundamental difference in philosophy or political doctrine. As far as I'm concerned, Bill Maher's view of the world is very much in synch with my own. In fact, if he and I were to sit down at a neighborhood bar (I with a cheap domestic beer, he with a top-of-the-line reefer) and discuss politics, we could very likely go a whole hour without a single meaningful dispute. My beef is more "personal" than ideological, more about "style" than "substance." Alas, it seems that somewhere along the line Mr. Bill Maher has fallen hopelessly in love with himself. This has altered his act, and not in a good way. As a consequence of that high self-regard, he now comes off as some sort of a "latter day prophet" or elder statesman rather than a stand-up comic. With all due respect, here are 3 things I wish Bill would do: ...
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Huffington Post article
Black Twitter Users Say No To Trump And Yes To 'The Wiz' In #InaugurationBlackout
Huffington Post - 2 months
In anticipation of the gloom President Donald Trump’s inauguration would cast over minority communities on Friday, Interactive News One’s Jamiliah Lemieux encouraged black Twitter users to partake in an #InaugurationBlackout that consisted of live-tweeting “The Wiz” on Netflix during the event.  Tomorrow at 11AM est, please join us in ignoring the Inauguration and, instead, live-tweeting The Wiz! More to come! #InaugurationBlackout pic.twitter.com/sJGJIFeWjr — JamilahIsoke Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) January 19, 2017 Lemieux partnered with media site Hello Beautiful, activist group Blackout For Human Rights and film company Array Now to encourage users to watch the 1978 black-led musical on Netflix promptly at 11 AM, moments before the inauguration kicked off. As users watched, timelines were flooded with #InaugurationBlackout tweets that reflected collective expressions of black joy, nostalgia, observations of the musical’s eerie foreboding and calls for solidar ...
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Huffington Post article
Book Review: "Kicking Through The Ashes"
Huffington Post - 3 months
Kicking Through The Ashes: My Life as a Stand-up in the 1980's Comedy Boom Ritch Shydner It's been just about 50 years since the fuse on the last big comedy explosion was lit, touched off about the same time protests against the Viet Nam war, the Summer of Love and man first landed on the moon. George Carlin traded in his necktie for a jean jacket, Richard Pryor came roaring out of the urban counterculture, and Rodney Dangerfield discovered that getting no respect was his key to selling out rooms. Between then and now, thousands upon thousands of stand-up comedians have thrown themselves on the grenade. A few of them, in one decade or another, have made their mark as true comedy stars be it on stage, television or in the movies. Hundreds more have become "household names" of one degree or another, as stars of comedy special, sitcoms or -- in the past decade or so -- soundcasting. And through documentaries, books, or soundcasts, a number of people have tried to capture the esse ...
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Huffington Post article
Shecky Trump
Huffington Post - 5 months
Last night's Al Smith dinner in NYC revealed the final piece of the puzzle about Donald Trump. He has no sense of humor. As a comedy writer by trade who has made his entire career out of making people laugh,  like most other comedy writers I take the job very seriously. There are all kinds of humor, both high and low and you pretty much get what you pay for.  There is no accounting for personal taste and I think what we gravitate towards, comedically reflects the things that made us laugh right out the gate. Growing up, my parent's comedy was mine too.  I grew up adoring Chaplin, Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, The Three Stooges, Jerry Lewis, Bob and Ray, the parade of swaggering comics on Ed Sullivan like Alan King and Henny Youngman until I went my own way when youth co-opted comedy and suddenly comics were rock stars in arenas, from Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Garry Shandling to Dice Clay and man the first year of SNL- ...
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Huffington Post article
Jay Z Is Bringing Kalief Browder's Heartbreaking Story To Television
Huffington Post - 6 months
In 2010, allegations over a stolen backpack changed one teen’s life forever. Now, Jay Z and The Weinstein Company are teaming up to bring that harrowing story to Spike TV.  The six-part documentary series, entitled “TIME: The Kalief Browder Story,” chronicles Kalief Browder’s horrific three-year ordeal at New York City jail complex, Rikers Island, where he was sent at just 16 years old without ever being convicted of a crime. Once he was finally released, 22-year-old Browder, who told HuffPost Live in 2013 that he was subjected to starvation and to nearly two years of solitary confinement while in prison, took his own life.  Jay Z told reporters at a press conference on Thursday that he met with Browder after he left prison to share “words of encouragement” and was “thrown off course” when he later heard about Browder’s death. The music mogul then brought the idea for a program about Browder’s experience to producer and studio executive Harvey Weinstein. “Kalief’s [story] is ...
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Huffington Post article
Read President Obama's Dedication At America's First National Museum For Black History
Huffington Post - 6 months
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON ― President Barack Obama dedicated the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday, describing it as a place that “helps to tell a richer and fuller story of who we are.” The museum, which faced numerous challenges to its opening for over a century, was dedicated by Obama as well as several distinguished speakers, including former President George W. Bush, Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder and civil rights icon and Congr ...
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Huffington Post article
Ritch Shydner: Veteran Comedian And Chronicler Of The 1980s Comedy Boom
Huffington Post - 7 months
Comedian Ritch Shydner All photos courtesy of Ritch Shydner Ritch Shydner's new book, "Kicking Through The Ashes: My Life as a Stand-up in the 1980s Comedy Explosion", has just been published. In the 1980s, Ritch made numerous appearances on TV, including "Late Night with David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show" with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno. He did an HBO half-hour special, "One Night Stand." He played Al Bundy's co-worker on "Married with Children", and made guest appearances on many other TV shows, such as "Designing Women" and "Roseanne." Ritch was able to translate his modest success on TV into an obscure film career, appearing in Steve Martin's, "Roxanne," and Eddie Murphy's, "Beverly Hills Cop II," before moving on to minor roles on smaller pictures. Ritch wrote for sitcoms such as "Roseanne", "The Jeff Foxworthy Show," and HBO's "The Mind of the Married Man." He wrote material for Jeff Foxworthy's Grammy-nominated comedy albums, "Totally Committed," and "Big ...
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Huffington Post article
2005: The wilder side of Gene Wilder
CBS News - 7 months
In 2005 interview, actor renowned for comic gems as "The Producers" and "Young Frankenstein" talked about his immortal collaborations with Mel Brooks and Richard Pryor, and his life with Gilda Radner, who died of cancer in 1989
Article Link:
CBS News article
Gene Wilder, star of 'Willy Wonka,' 'Blazing Saddles,' dead at 83
Yahoo News - 7 months
By Piya Sinha-Roy LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gene Wilder, whose wild curls and startling blue eyes brought a frantic air to roles in the movies "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," "Young Frankenstein" and "Blazing Saddles," died on Monday at the age of 83, his family said. Wilder, whose best work included collaborations with director-writer Mel Brooks and actor-comedian Richard Pryor, died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, from complications of Alzheimer's disease, the family said in a statement. Wilder's nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman, said the actor had chosen to keep his illness secret so that children who knew him as Willy Wonka would not equate the whimsical character with an adult disease.
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Yahoo News article
Richard Pryor's Daughter Opens Up About The Racism Her Family Faced In Beverly Hills
Huffington Post - 7 months
function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); When Rain Pryor was born in 1969, her father, Richard Pryor, had already begun transitioning from a relatively mild joke-telling comedian to a fearless, outspoken comic whose routines doubled as raw social commentary. As Pryor’s comedy was shifting, so was the country, moving toward more progressive values. But, as his daughter Rain points out, blatant racism still affected countless families, including her own. Speaking with “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”, the 47 ...
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Huffington Post article
Home of Legendary Comedian Richard Pryor Up for Grabs at $3M
Fox News - 8 months
Located in Northridge, CA, the home is truly a compound. There are six buildings on the site, including the main home, guesthouse, and dance studio. The post Home of Legendary Comedian Richard Pryor Up for Grabs at $3M appeared first on Real Estate News and Advice - realtor.com.
Article Link:
Fox News article
George Carlin's Daughter Says Her Dad Would Consider Trump A Misogynistic Racist
Huffington Post - 8 months
George Carlin would definitely consider alleged billionaire and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump a misogynist and a racist, the late comedy legend’s daughter insists.  Kelly Carlin made the comment during an interview with comedian Karith Foster, who is working with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, that was posted as a podcast and a video on Thursday. Foster was speaking with the daughters of George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce about the state of comedy today and censorship.  During the conversation, Kelly Carlin described how her father believed that it was his job in comedy to find the line and to cross it, but there aren’t a lot of lines left to cross today. “So, therefore, we get someone like Donald Trump running for president,” she said.  After explaining her theory about how political correctness develops ― that it comes from a good place but is “not good for democracy in the end” ― Carlin said: “This is why we got Trump. He’s not pol ...
Article Link:
Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Richard Pryor
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2005
    Age 64
    On December 19, 2005, BET aired a Pryor special.
    More Details Hide Details It included commentary from fellow comedians, and insight into his upbringing. On March 1, 2008, fellow comedian George Carlin performed his final HBO special. An image of Pryor can be seen in the background throughout his set. Carlin would mention Pryor's death in his memoir, Last Words (2009), noting their friendly rivalry that lasted until Carlin finally beat him "in the Heart Attack 5000". In the episode "Taxes and Death or Get Him to the Sunset Strip"(2012), the voice of Richard Pryor is played by Eddie Griffin in the satirical TV show Black Dynamite. On May 31, 2013, Showtime debuted the documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic directed by Emmy Award–winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich. The executive producers are Pryor's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor and Roy Ackerman. Interviewees include Dave Chappelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Jackson, Quincy Jones, George Lopez, Bob Newhart, Richard Pryor, Jr., Lily Tomlin, and Robin Williams.
    On December 14, 2005, the episode "George Is Being Elfish and Christ-misses His Family" of the comedian hit show George Lopez was dedicated to Pryor in his memory.
    More Details Hide Details
    On December 10, 2005, Pryor suffered a heart attack in Los Angeles.
    More Details Hide Details He was taken to a local hospital after his wife's attempts to resuscitate him failed. He was pronounced dead at 7:58 a.m. PST. He was 65 years old. His widow Jennifer was quoted as saying, "At the end, there was a smile on his face." He was cremated, and his ashes were given to his family. In a tribute made by Jackson Browne to roadies and fans—"The Load-Out", released on the album Running on Empty (1977)—the lyrics state: "we got Richard Pryor on the video" on the tour bus. In the Bora-Bora album, released in 1988, Brazilian band Os Paralamas do Sucesso featured the reggae musician Peter Metro, singing "Don't give me that", a song about Pryor freebase episode. The lyrics says: "You've ever heard about Richard Pryor/ The greatest comedian in America/ /The great Richard Pryor, he catch fire/ He was in a big house and tried free-base/ / He was burnt up and down/ He was fried like a chicken".
    In a 2005 British poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, Pryor was voted the 10th greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.
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    However, on January 9, 2005, Pryor's wife, Jennifer Lee, rebutted this statement in a post on Pryor's official website, citing Richard as saying: "I'm sick of hearing this shit about me not talking... not true...
    More Details Hide Details I have good days, bad days... but I still am a talkin' motherfucker!"
    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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  • 2004
    Age 63
    In late 2004, his sister said he had lost his voice as result of his multiple sclerosis.
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    In 2004, Pryor was voted No. 1 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time.
    More Details Hide Details
    After going through the tapes and getting Richard's blessing, Jennifer Lee Pryor gave Rhino Records access to the tapes in 2004.
    More Details Hide Details These tapes, including the entire Craps album, form the basis of the February 1, 2005, double-CD release Evolution/Revolution: The Early Years (1966–1974). A television documentary, Richard Pryor: I Ain't Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! (2003) consisted of archival footage of Pryor's performances and testimonials from fellow comedians, including Dave Chappelle, Denis Leary, Chris Rock, and Wanda Sykes, on Pryor's influence on comedy.
  • 2002
    Age 61
    In 2002, Pryor and his wife/manager, Jennifer Lee Pryor, won legal rights to all the Laff material, which amounted to almost 40 hours of reel-to-reel analog tape.
    More Details Hide Details
    In 2002, a television documentary entitled The Funny Life of Richard Pryor depicted Pryor's life and career.
    More Details Hide Details Broadcast in the UK as part of the Channel 4 series Kings of Black Comedy, it was produced, directed and narrated by David Upshal and featured rare clips from Pryor's 1960s stand-up appearances and movies such as Silver Streak (1976), Blue Collar (1978), Richard Pryor: Live in Concert (1978), and Stir Crazy (1980). Contributors included George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Whoopi Goldberg, Ice-T, Paul Mooney, Joan Rivers, and Lily Tomlin. The show tracked down the two cops who had rescued Pryor from his "freebasing incident", former managers, and even school friends from Pryor's home town of Peoria, Illinois. In the US, the show went out as part of the Heroes of Black Comedy series on Comedy Central, narrated by Don Cheadle.
  • 2001
    Age 60
    In 2001, he remarried Jennifer Lee, who had also become his manager.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 2000
    Age 59
    In early 2000, Pryor appeared in the cold open of The Norm Show in the episode entitled "Norm vs. The Boxer".
    More Details Hide Details He played an elderly man in a wheelchair who lost the rights to in-home nursing when he kept attacking the nurses before attacking Norm himself.
  • 1998
    Age 57
    In 1998, Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
    More Details Hide Details According to former Kennedy Center President Lawrence J. Wilker, Pryor was selected as the first recipient of the Prize because as a stand-up comic, writer, and actor, he struck a chord, and a nerve, with America, forcing it to look at large social questions of race and the more tragicomic aspects of the human condition. Though uncompromising in his wit, Pryor, like Twain, projects a generosity of spirit that unites us. They were both trenchant social critics who spoke the truth, however outrageous. Rhino Records remastered all of Pryor's Reprise and WB albums for inclusion in the box set And It's Deep Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (2000).
  • FORTIES
  • 1990
    Age 49
    In 1990, Pryor suffered a second and more severe heart attack and underwent triple heart bypass surgery.
    More Details Hide Details On the late evening of June 9, 1980, during the making of the film Bustin' Loose, after days of freebasing cocaine, Pryor poured 151-proof rum all over himself and lit himself on fire. While ablaze, he ran down Parthenia Street from his Los Angeles, California home, until being subdued by police. He was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for second and third degree burns covering more than half of his body. Pryor spent six weeks in recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. His daughter, Rain, stated that the incident happened as a result of a bout of drug-induced psychosis; later, however, in an on-camera interview, Pryor said: "I tried to commit suicide. Next question." Pryor incorporated a description of the incident into his comedy show Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982). He joked that the event was caused by dunking a cookie into a glass of low-fat and pasteurized milk, causing an explosion. At the end of the bit, he poked fun at people who told jokes about it by waving a lit match and saying, "What's that? Richard Pryor running down the street."
  • 1986
    Age 45
    He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1983
    Age 42
    In 1983, Pryor signed a five-year contract with Columbia Pictures for US$40 million and he started his own production company, Indigo Productions.
    More Details Hide Details This resulted in the mainstreaming of Pryor's onscreen persona and softer, more formulaic films like Superman III (1983), which earned Pryor $4 million; Brewster's Millions (1985), Moving (1988), and See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989). The only film project from this period that recalled his rough roots was Pryor's semi-autobiographic debut as a writer-director, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986), which was not a major success. Despite a reputation for constantly using profanity on and off camera, Pryor briefly hosted a children's show on CBS called Pryor's Place (1984). Like Sesame Street, Pryor's Place featured a cast of puppets, hanging out and having fun in a surprisingly friendly inner-city environment along with several children and characters portrayed by Pryor himself. However, Pryor's Place frequently dealt with more sobering issues than Sesame Street. It was canceled shortly after its debut, despite the efforts of famed puppeteers Sid and Marty Krofft and a theme song by Ray Parker, Jr. of "Ghostbusters" (1984) fame.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1980
    Age 39
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Pryor was also originally considered for the role of Billy Ray Valentine on Trading Places (1983), before Eddie Murphy won the part.
  • 1979
    Age 38
    In 1979, at the height of his success, Pryor visited Africa.
    More Details Hide Details Upon returning to the United States, Pryor swore he would never use the word "nigger" in his stand-up comedy routine again. However, his favorite epithet, "motherfucker", remains a term of endearment on his official website. In the 1970s and 1980s, Pryor appeared in several popular films, including Lady Sings the Blues (1972), The Mack (1973), Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Silver Streak (1976), Car Wash (1976), Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976), Which Way Is Up? (1977), Greased Lightning (1977), Blue Collar (1978), Stir Crazy (1980), and Bustin' Loose (1981). Next, Pryor co-starred with Jackie Gleason in The Toy (1982). Pryor co-wrote Blazing Saddles (1974), directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder. Pryor was to play the lead role of Bart, but the film's production studio would not insure him, and Mel Brooks chose Cleavon Little instead.
  • 1977
    Age 36
    In November 1977, after many years of heavy smoking and drinking, Pryor suffered a mild heart attack.
    More Details Hide Details He soon recovered and resumed performing again by January the following year.
    The Richard Pryor Show premiered on NBC in 1977 but was canceled after only four episodes probably because television audiences did not respond well to his show's controversial subject matter, and Pryor was unwilling to alter his material for network censors.
    More Details Hide Details During the short-lived series, he portrayed the first African-American President of the United States, spoofed the Star Wars cantina, took on gun violence, and in another skit, used costumes and visual distortion to appear nude.
    It became his third consecutive Gold album, and he collected his third consecutive Grammy for Best Comedic Recording for the album in 1977.
    More Details Hide Details With every successful album Pryor recorded for Warner (or later, his concert films and his 1980 freebasing accident), Laff would quickly publish an album of older material to capitalize on Pryor's growing fame—a practice they continued until 1983. The covers of Laff albums tied in thematically with Pryor movies, such as Are You Serious? for Silver Streak (1976), The Wizard of Comedy for his appearance in The Wiz (1978), and Insane for Stir Crazy (1980).
  • 1976
    Age 35
    Like That Nigger's Crazy, the album was a hit with both critics and fans; it was eventually certified Platinum by the RIAA and won the Grammy Award for Best Comedic Recording at the 1976 Grammy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details Pryor's release Bicentennial Nigger (1976) continued his streak of success.
  • 1975
    Age 34
    That Nigger's Crazy was a commercial and critical success; it was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA and won the Grammy Award for Best Comedic Recording at the 1975 Grammy Awards.
    More Details Hide Details During the legal battle, Stax briefly closed its doors. At this time, Pryor returned to Reprise/Warner Bros. Records, which re-released That Nigger's Crazy, immediately after Is It Something I Said?, his first album with his new label.
  • 1974
    Age 33
    In 1974, Pryor was arrested for income tax evasion and served 10 days in jail.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1973
    Age 32
    In the 1970s, Pryor wrote for such television shows as Sanford and Son, The Flip Wilson Show, and a 1973 Lily Tomlin special, for which he shared an Emmy Award.
    More Details Hide Details During this period, Pryor tried to break into mainstream television. He was a guest host on the first season of Saturday Night Live and the first black person to host the show. Pryor took longtime girlfriend, actress-talk show host Kathrine McKee (sister of Lonette McKee) with him to New York, and she made a brief guest appearance with Pryor on SNL. He participated in the "word association" skit with Chevy Chase.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1970
    Age 29
    He signed with the comedy-oriented independent record label Laff Records in 1970, and in 1971 recorded his second album, Craps (After Hours).
    More Details Hide Details Two years later, the relatively unknown comedian appeared in the documentary Wattstax (1973), wherein he riffed on the tragic-comic absurdities of race relations in Watts and the nation. Not long afterward, Pryor sought a deal with a larger label, and after some time, signed with Stax Records. When his third, breakthrough album, That Nigger's Crazy (1974), was released, Laff, who claimed ownership of Pryor's recording rights, almost succeeded in getting an injunction to prevent the album from being sold. Negotiations led to Pryor's release from his Laff contract. In return for this concession, Laff was enabled to release previously unissued material, recorded between 1968 and 1973, at will.
  • 1969
    Age 28
    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.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1968
    Age 27
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Around this time, his parents died—his mother in 1967 and his father in 1968.
  • 1967
    Age 26
    In September 1967, Pryor had what he described in his autobiography Pryor Convictions (1995) as an "epiphany".
    More Details Hide Details He walked onto the stage at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas (with Dean Martin in the audience), looked at the sold-out crowd, exclaimed over the microphone "What the fuck am I doing here!?", and walked off the stage. Afterward, Pryor began working profanity into his act, including the word nigger.
  • 1963
    Age 22
    In 1963, Pryor moved to New York City and began performing regularly in clubs alongside performers such as Bob Dylan and Woody Allen.
    More Details Hide Details On one of his first nights, he opened for singer and pianist Nina Simone at New York's Village Gate. Simone recalls Pryor's bout of performance anxiety: Inspired by Bill Cosby, Pryor began as a middlebrow comic, with material far less controversial than what was to come. Soon, he began appearing regularly on television variety shows, such as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His popularity led to success as a comic in Las Vegas.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1958
    Age 17
    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.
    More Details Hide Details According to a 1999 profile about Pryor in The New Yorker, Pryor was incarcerated for an incident that occurred while stationed in Germany. Angered that a white soldier was overly amused at the racially charged sections of Douglas Sirk's movie Imitation of Life (1959), Pryor and some other black soldiers beat and stabbed him, though not fatally.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1940
    Born
    Born on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother's brothel, where his mother, Gertrude L. (Thomas), practiced prostitution.
    More Details Hide Details His father, LeRoy "Buck Carter" Pryor (June 7, 1915 – September 27, 1968), was a former boxer and hustler. After his alcoholic mother abandoned him when he was 10, Pryor was raised primarily by his grandmother Marie Carter, a tall, violent woman who would beat him for any of his eccentricities. Pryor was one of four children raised in his grandmother's brothel and was sexually abused at age seven. He was expelled from school at the age of 14.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
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