10 December 2005

richard pryor dead at 65

this is a sad day. richard pryor has given us a lot of laughs over the years. his albums, movies and stand up appearances are hilarious. silver streak with gene wilder comes to mind. the toy with jackie gleason was filmed at baton rouge, louisiana if memory serves.

if you have a moment, you may go here and leave a virtual flower and note for richard pryor at find a grave.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Actor-comedian Richard Pryor, who helped transform comedy with biting commentary on race and his own shortcomings, died on Saturday at age 65 after a long illness, his wife told CNN.

"He was my treasure," Jennifer Pryor said in a telephone interview. "His comedy is unparalleled. They say that you are not a comic unless you imitate Richard Pryor. ... He was able to turn his pain into comedy."

Pryor's wife said he died of cardiac arrest at 7:58 a.m. PST after her efforts to resuscitate him failed and after he was taken to a hospital in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino. Pryor had been suffering from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nervous system disease, for almost 20 years.

While he appeared in many successful movies, it was Pryor's stand-up comedy act, in which nothing was off-limits, that made him a controversial star. Racism was a major component of his routine and he even joked about a 1980 incident in which he nearly died after setting himself on fire while free-basing cocaine.

Pryor marked his 65th birthday on December 1.

"He's been so strong for so many years," Jennifer Pryor told CNN. "He's had this disease (multiple sclerosis) since 1986 ... He's had beyond nine lives. We used to joke he's going to outlive everybody.

"He was an extraordinary man, as you know. He enjoyed life right up until the end. He did not suffer, he went quickly, at the end there was a smile on his face ... he's a very, very, very amazing man and he opened doors to so many people."

Pryor was married seven times, including twice to Jennifer and twice to Flynn Belaine, and had seven children.

Pryor grew up in the Peoria, Illinois, brothel run by his grandmother. After a stint in the Army, he pursued a comedy career that landed him spots on the Ed Sullivan and Merv Griffin shows in the 1960s.

He eventually grew unhappy with the "white bread" humor those shows sought and revamped his act with inspiration from the hustlers, pimps and other characters he had encountered at his grandmother's whorehouse. The result was a routine that was both profound and profane.

"He had a courage and a heart and a spirit that was unmatchable and, of course, he was controversial," Jennifer Pryor said. "That was wonderful Richard. He told the truth, didn't he? ... he told the truth and he was very proud.

"Bigoted rednecks came up to Richard and told him, 'Thank you for opening my eyes,' because he was so in touch with the truth and only spoke the truth ... people respond to that." Continued ...
richard pryor memorial at find a grave
screen grab - drudgereportarchives.com