Richard Pryor - Updated Dec 2023

Updated On November 26, 2023
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Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor was a creative African-American comedian. Richard Pryor was prominent for being one of the top entertainers of the duration of the 1970s and 1980s. It seems that he was highly influential and always a topic of controversy. Equally, he was known for his colorful language during his live comedy shows.

Early Life and Family

Richard Pryor was born on December 1, 1940. His birthplace is in Peoria, Illinois. It seems as if his life initiation was quite rough. He was born to Gertrude L. Thomas and LeRoy Pryor. His zodiac sign is Sagittarius. Reportedly, his mother used to work as a prostitute. His father, on the other hand, was a bartender and boxer. He served in the military during World War II.

Richard Pryor Childhood

Caption: Richard Pryor’s early age (Richard Pryor)

The comedian was brought up in his grandmother’s brothel she ran. He has a sibling named Lawrence D. Keys. His nationality is American and his ethnicity is unknown. Sadly, Pryor died because of a heart attack at a Los Angeles area hospital on 10 December 2005.

During his school days, Richar used to play the part of a class clown. In his teenage duration, he came to realize his acting skills. Unfortunately, he was expelled from school when he was 14.

Career and Professional Life

Due to his better acting skills, Richard Pryor was cast in a production of Rumpelstiltskin by Juliette Whittaker. She is the director of a local community center. Also, she believed in his talent and further encouraged him throughout the years. After being expelled from school, he had to work in several jobs until he joined the military in 1958. Nonetheless, he could work in the army for only two years. This was because he was discharged for fighting with another soldier. Except as a comedian and actor, he was also an advocate for animal rights. He established Pryor’s Planet, a charity for animals.

Career as comedian

Further, the famous personality pursued his career as an entertainer after his first divorce. He was able to work as a stand-up comic throughout the Midwest, playing African-American clubs in cities like East St. Louis and Pittsburgh. He made his debut in “On Broadway Tonight”. Likewise, He also made guest appearances in “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show”.

Richard Pryor Actor

Caption: Richard Pryor during his struggling phase (TMZ)

Additionally, he appeared in “The Busy Body”(1967) and “Wild in the Streets”(1968). Then, he also released his first self-titled comedy album. As a famous comedian, he traveled a lot. He served as Bobby Darin’s opening act at the Flamingo Hotel for a time playing Las Vegas.

Career in movies

Surprisingly, he took a break from stand-up after a certain time because he was tired of the constraints and limitations on his material. Besides, he also wrote for shows such as The Flip Wilson Show and Sanford and Son, which starred comedian Redd Foxx.

Consequently, he then went to work in the movies as well. Professionally, he worked with Mel Brooks on the screenplay for the western spoof Blazing Saddles (1974).

By the end of the 1970s, he had a fortune career as a movie actor. He was people’s favorite in the box office hit Silver Streak(1976), with Gene Wilder and Jill Clayburgh. He also played the first African American stock car racing champion in “Greased Lightning”(1977).

Also, Pryor re-teamed with Wilder for the popular crime comedy Stir Crazy (1980). It was directed by Sidney Poitier. The film was a huge hit at the box office and earned more than $100 million. His other film was “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert(1979).

Comeback in career

After a very long time of recovery from many incidents, he returned to stand-up and acting as well. He starred in many films such as “Some Kind of Hero”(1982) and “The Toy” (1982).

Likewise, his project drawing his own life experience was “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling”(1986). Despite getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he remained active in movies such as “Critical Condition”(1987), “See No Evil”, Hear No Evil”, and Harlem Nights.

Besides, he wrote the autobiography Pryor Convictions: And Other Life Sentences. He also appeared in “Chicago Hope”. His last film was “Lost Highway”.

Awards and Nominations

As an actor as well as a comedian, Richard Pryor could score several successes. He could earn many positive views for his supporting role in the “Billie Holiday” biopic “Lady Sings the Blues”(1972), starring Diana Ross. The talented personality received his first Emmy Award nomination (outstanding writing achievement in comedy, variety) for his work on “The Lily Tomlin Show. Simultaneously, he also won the first Emmy (best writing in comedy, variety) for the next collaboration with Lily Tomlin: the comedy special Lily(1973).

Above all, his third comedy album won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording in 1974. He was the first person to receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the Kennedy Center in 1998. After his performance on his comeback in his career, he won two more Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Recording. The first one was for Rev.Du Rite in 1981 and the second one was for Live on the Sunset Strip in 1982.

Richard Pryor – Net Worth 2023

By the year of 1983, he could become one of the highest-paid African-American actors. He bought home $4 million to play an evil henchman in Superman III. Astonishingly, he earned more than the film’s star, Christopher Reeve.

His net worth was estimated to be $40 million.

Personal Life

Moreover, the well-known celebrity first married Patricia Price in 1960. They also had one child before divorcing. Later on, he married Shelly Bonus in 1967. They also share a daughter named Elizabeth before divorcing in 1969.

To boot, it was not known to anyone that Richard and Grier were dating together for a certain time. However, they tied the knot with his third wife, Deborah McGuire in 1977. Nevertheless, they divorced in 1979.

Richard Pryor and Jennifer Lee

Caption: Richard Pryor with his fourth wife, Jennifer Lee (Yahoo)

For the fourth time, he married Jennifer Lee in 1981. The couple again divorced after a year. Briefly, he also married actress Flynn BeLaine and separated after a certain time in the early 1990s. Again, he remarried Jennifer Lee and spent his final years with her at his California home.


One of the celebrity’s controversial facts was that Richard admitted that he had also experienced sexual abuse as a child according to some sources of information. He has stated that to escape from the harsh reality of life, he got involved in the movies.

Besides, he also got into legal trouble in the early 1970s for failing to file tax returns from 1967 to 1970. In 1978, he shot his estranged wife’s car and was put on probation, fined, and also ordered to get psychiatric treatment.

He also had a suicide attempt by letting himself on fire after several days of freebasing cocaine in 1980. It was first reported as an accident but he admitted it later on. Woefully, he had also suffered third-degree burns on more than 50 percent of his body.

Body Measurements

The comedian stands at a height of 5 feet and 11 inches and his weight is 75 kg. The body size of Richard Pryor was 42 inches. He had brown colored eyes and black hair. His shoe size and dress size are not known.

Richard Pryor – Social Media

Unfortunately, Richard Pryor did not have an account on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He may not be interested in making an account on any of the social media platforms. As he had never been much open about his personal life, he avoided being companionable socially.