December 1, 1940 Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor, III, comedian, writer and actor, was born in Peoria, Illinois.
After his discharge from the Army in 1960, Pryor began working as a professional comic in clubs throughout the Midwest. In 1963, he moved to New York City and began to gain national recognition and appear on television variety shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Tonight Show.”
In 1967, he appeared in his first movie, “The Busy Body,” and in 1968 recorded his first album, “Richard Pryor.” Over his career, Pryor won Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album for “That Nigger’s Crazy” (1975), “Is It Something I Said” (1976), “Bicentennial Nigger” (1977), “Rev Du Right” (1982), and “Live on the Sunset Strip” (1983). He also won the Emmy Award for Writing in Variety or Music in 1974 for a Lily Tomlin television special. Pryor appeared in more than 50 movies, including “Wild in the Streets” (1968), “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972), “The Wiz” (1978), “Superman III” (1983), and the semi-autobiographical “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling” (1986).
Pryor published his autobiography, “Pryor Convictions and Other Life Sentences,” in 1995. In 1998, Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Pryor died December 10, 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Pryor is listed number one on Comedy Central’s list of all-time greatest stand-up comedians.
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