Iconic comedian/actor Richard Pryor passed away this morning (Dec. 10) of a heart
attack, after being ill for years with multiple sclerosis.
Pryor, 65, who has been sampled by such artists as Dr. Dre,
DJ Premier, A Tribe Called Quest and others, passed away at a hospital near
his home in the San Fernando Valley.
Pryor’s business manager Karen Finch stated that a private
memorial service will be held by private invitation.
The family is also requesting donations to Pryor’s recently
established animal charity, Pryor’s Planet.
The multi-talented Pryor was born Dec. 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois.
Pryor was a more mainstream comedian in the mid-1960’s, until he started
working profanity and the word n***er into his act.
Pryor’s second album, 1970’s Craps (After Hours)
on Laff Records helped the comedian gain a larger following.
Seeking a larger deal, the comedian released the classic comedy
album That Nigger’s Crazy on the Reprise/Warner imprint.
The hit albums continued for Pryor, who released hit albums
like Is It Something I Said?, Bicentennial N***r, Richard
Pryor: Wanted – Live In Concert and Richard Pryor: Live on the
In 1977, the comedian launched his own television show The
Richard Pryor Show on NBC in 1977.
He also wrote for the hit series Sanford & Son, hosted a
controversial episode of "Saturday Night Live" and later hosted his
own children’s show, "Pryor’s Place."
In 1979, Pryor took a trip to Africa and vowed never to use
the N-word in his standup comedy routine again.
In 1980, Pryor was freebasing and accidentally set himself on
fire. Despite being severely burned, Pryor worked the incident into his stand
up show, "Richard Pryor Live on Sunset Strip."
According to Pryor’s wife Jennifer, the comedian had actually
tried to commit suicide by pouring high proof rum over his body in a drug induced
frenzy and lit himself on fire.
Also, in 1980, Pryor used his considerable clout in Hollywood
to form his own movie production company, Indigo. The comedian appeared in almost
50 movies, including "Lady Sings the Blues," "The Wiz,"
"Silver Streak," "Car Wash," "Greased Lightining,"
"Stir Crazy," "Superman III," "Harlem Nights,"
"Brewster’s Millions," "The Toy," "Bustin’ Loose,"
"The Muppet Movie" and others.
In 1983, the comedian earned $4 million dollars for his role
in "Superman III," earning a million more than the film’s star,
Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1986 and was
later confined to a wheel chair. His 1995 autobiography “Pryor Convictions:
And Other Life Sentences” were released to critical acclaim.
In 2004, Pryor was voted the “Greatest Standup Comedian
of All Time” by Comedy Central.
The comedian was married six times in his life and is survived
by his wife Jennifer Lee Pryor and six children, Richard Pryor, Jr., Elizabeth
Stordeur, Rain Kindlin, Kelsey Pryor, Steven Pryor, Franklin Mason and three