Richard Pryor

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Richard Pryor

Richard Franklin Lenox Thomas Pryor (born December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois) is an American comedian and actor.

Known for his frequent use of colorful language, vulgarities, as well as racial epithets (such as "nigger"), Pryor shattered many barriers for African American stand-up comedians. Pryor is often ranked among the best stand-up comedians.

Richard was at his best when he took the tragic events that happened during his life and made them a part of his on stage routine in concert movies and recordings such as "Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin'" (1971), "That Nigger's Crazy" (1974), "Bicentenntial Nigger" (1976), "Richard Pryor: Wanted – Live In Concert" (1979) and "Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip" (1982).

Comfortably successful and into the zenith of his career, Pryor visited Africa in 1979. Upon returning to the United States, Pryor swore he would never use the "N" word in his stand-up comedy routine again.

Pryor appeared in several popular films including Lady Sings The Blues, The Mack, Uptown Saturday Night, Silver Streak, Which Way Is Up?, Car Wash, The Toy, Superman III, Brewster's Millions, Stir Crazy, Moving, See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Blue Collar. In four of his films, he co-starred with Gene Wilder. He also co-wrote Blazing Saddles directed by Mel Brooks and starring Gene Wilder. Pryor was to play the sheriff in "Blazing Saddles", but the film's producers were unsettled by his vulgarity and Mel Brooks chose Cleavon Little instead.

On June 1, 1980, Pryor set himself on fire while free-basing cocaine. This was a suicide attempt, but at the time Pryor's manager tried to protect him by claiming that it was an accident. Pryor made this part of his heralded "final" stand up show "Richard Pryor Live On Sunset Strip" (1982).

In 1986, Pryor announced that he suffers from multiple sclerosis and today is confined to a wheelchair. In late 2004 his sister claimed that Pryor has lost his voice. However, on January 9, 2005, Pryor himself rebutted this statement in a post on his official website (, where he stated, "Sick of hearing this shit about me not talking... not true... good days, bad days... but I still am a talkin' motherfucker!"

In 1999, Pryor won the inaugural Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

In 2004, Pryor was voted #1 of the "Greatest Standup Comedians of All Time (" by Comedy Central.

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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