Richard Pryor was born December 1, 1940, in Peoria, Illinois. He was the class clown in school and a community theater actor in his teens. For much of his youth, Pryor was left in his grandmother’s care and lived in a brothel that she ran. There is some speculative belief that he was sexually abused as a child. To step away from his grim reality, Pryor found solace in going to the movies. At the age of 14, Pryor was expelled from school and resulting in working a various string of jobs until he joined the military in 1958. He served in the army for two years and was discharged for fighting with another soldier.
By the late 1960s, Pryor had landed a few small parts on the big screen. Appearances include The Busy Body (1967) and Wild in the Streets (1968). He released his first self-titled comedy album around this time. Pryor was a skilled social satirist with a fondness for profanity. His comedy style, full of profanities and full of controversy, led him to become one of the top entertainers of the 1970s and 1980s. Pryor had much admiration for comedians Bill Cosby and Dick Gregory. Continuing to thrive professionally, Pryor worked with Mel Brooks on the screenplay for western spoof Blazin’ Saddles (1974).
Pryor’s own work was attracting much attention. Despite his X-rated content, his third comedy album sold extremely well and the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording in 1974, a feat Pryor repeated the next two years. Pryor went on to star in the box office hit Silver Streak (1976) with Gene Wilder and Greased Lightning... [continues]
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