Richard Pryor

Lowest Rated: 9% The Toy (1982)
Birthday: Dec 1, 1940
Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, USA
African-American comedian Richard Pryor grew up bombarded by mixed messages. Pryor's grandmother owned a string of brothels, his mother prostituted herself, and his father was a pimp. Still, they raised Richard to be honest, polite, and religious. Living in one of the worst slums in Peoria, IL, Pryor found that he could best defend himself by getting gang members to laugh at instead of pummeling him. This led to his reputation as a disruptive class clown, although at least one understanding teacher allowed Pryor one minute per week to "cut up" so long as he behaved himself the rest of the time. At age 14, he became involved in amateur dramatics at Peoria's Carver Community Center, which polished his stage presence. In 1963, Pryor headed to New York to seek work as a standup comic; after small gigs in the black nightclub circuit, he was advised to pattern himself after Bill Cosby -- that is, to be what white audiences perceived as "nonthreatening." For the next five years, the young comic flourished in clubs and on TV variety shows, making his film bow in The Busy Body (1967). But the suppression of Pryor's black pride and anger by the white power structure frustrated him. One night, sometime between 1969 and 1971, he "lost it" while performing a gig in Las Vegas; he either walked off-stage without a word or he obscenely proclaimed that he was sick of it. Over the next few years, Pryor found himself banned from many nightclubs, allegedly due to offending the mob-connected powers-that-be, and lost many of his so-called friends who'd been sponging off of him. Broke, Pryor went underground in Berkeley, CA, in the early '70s; when he re-emerged, he was a road-company Cosby no more. His act, replete with colorful epithets, painfully accurate character studies of street types, and hilarious (and, to some, frightening) hostility over black-white inequities, struck just the right note with audiences of the committed '70s. Record company executives, concerned that Pryor's humor would appeal only to blacks, were amazed at how well his first post-Berkeley album, That Nigger's Crazy!, sold with young white consumers. As for Hollywood, Pryor made a key early appearance in the Diana Ross vehicle Lady Sings the Blues. But ultra-reactionary Tinseltown wasn't quite attuned to Pryor's liberal use of obscenities or his racial posturing. Pryor had been commissioned to write and star in a Mel Brooks-directed Western-comedy about a black sheriff, but Brooks replaced Pryor with the less-threatening Cleavon Little; Pryor nonetheless retained a credit as one of five writers on the picture, alongside such luminaries as Andrew Bergman. When Pryor appeared onscreen in The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings and Silver Streak (both 1976), it was as a supporting actor. But Pryor's popularity built momentum, and by the end of the '70s he became the highest-paid starring comedian in films, with long-range contracts ensuring him work well into the next decade - when such efforts as Stir Crazy, Bustin' Loose, and The Toy helped to both clean up the foul-mouthed comic's somewhat raunchy public image, and endear him to a whole new generation of fans. His comedy albums -- and later, videocassettes -- sold out as quickly as they were recorded. The only entertainment arena still too timid for Pryor was network television -- his 1977 NBC variety series has become legendary for the staggering amount of network interference and censorship imposed upon it.By the early '80s, Pryor was on top of the entertainment world. Then came a near-fatal catastrophe when he accidentally set himself afire while freebasing cocaine. Upon recovery, he joked liberally (and self-deprecatively) about his brush with death, but, otherwise, he appeared to change; his comedy became more introspective, more rambling, more tiresome, and occasionally (as in the 1983 standup effort Richard Pryor: Here and Now) drew vicious heckling and catcalls from obnoxious audiences. His cinematic dec


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Make 'Em Laugh: The Funny Business Of America Actor 2008
No Score Yet Black and White Trypps Number Four Actor 2007
No Score Yet Richard Pryor:Stand Up Actor 2005
No Score Yet Richard Pryor - I Ain't Dead Yet #%$#@!! Uncensored Actor 2004
No Score Yet Richard Pryor - I Ain't Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! Actor 2003
No Score Yet Adios Amigo Sam Spade 2003
No Score Yet Bitter Jester Actor 2003
86% Wattstax Actor 2000
No Score Yet Bingo Long And His Traveling All Stars Actor 1998
60% Lost Highway Arnie 1997
No Score Yet Century of Black Cinema Actor 1997
No Score Yet Sam Kinison: Why Did We Laugh? Actor 1997
17% Mad Dog Time Jimmy the Gravedigger 1996
11% Another You Eddie Dash 1991
No Score Yet The Three Muscatels Russell 1991
21% Harlem Nights Sugar Ray 1989
28% See No Evil, Hear No Evil Wally 1989
No Score Yet Moving Arlo Pear 1988
No Score Yet Critical Condition Eddie Lenahan/Dr. Kevin Slattery 1987
No Score Yet Lily Tomlin Actor 1986
55% Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling Jo Jo Dancer/Alter Ego Director Screenwriter Producer 1986
36% Brewster's Millions Montgomery Brewster 1985
83% Richard Pryor Here and Now Himself Screenwriter Director 1983
24% Superman III Gus Gorman 1983
No Score Yet Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever Actor 1983
9% The Toy Jack Brown 1982
No Score Yet Some Kind of Hero Eddie Keller 1982
100% Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip Producer Screenwriter Himself 1982
60% Bustin' Loose Producer Joe Braxton 1981
No Score Yet Richard Pryor - Live and Smokin' Actor 1981
67% Stir Crazy Harry Monroe 1980
No Score Yet In God We Tru$t (In God We Trust) (Gimme That Prime Time Religion) God 1980
14% Wholly Moses! Pharaoh 1980
88% The Muppet Movie Balloon Man 1979
92% Richard Pryor---Live in Concert Actor Screenwriter 1979
57% California Suite Dr. Chauncy Gump 1978
44% The Wiz The Wiz 1978
100% Blue Collar Zeke Brown 1978
20% Which Way Is Up? Leroy Jones / Rufus Jones / Rev. Lenox Thomas 1977
No Score Yet Greased Lightning Wendell Scott 1977
83% Silver Streak Grover Muldoon 1976
86% Car Wash Daddy Rich 1976
87% The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings Charlie Snow/Carlos Nevada/Chief Takahoma, All-Star 1976
71% Uptown Saturday Night Sharp Eye Washington 1974
91% Blazing Saddles Screenwriter 1974
No Score Yet Hit! Mike Willmer 1973
No Score Yet The Mack Slim 1973
No Score Yet Some Call It Loving Jeff 1973
69% Lady Sings the Blues Piano Man 1972
No Score Yet Richard Pryor: Live & Smokin' Actor 1971
No Score Yet Dynamite Chicken Himself 1971
No Score Yet Carter's Army Pvt. Jonathan Crunk 1970
No Score Yet Black Brigade Crunk 1969
65% Wild in the Streets Stanley X 1968
No Score Yet The Busy Body Whittaker 1967


No Score Yet Chicago Hope
Joe Springer
  • 1995
No Score Yet Martin
  • 1993
No Score Yet Saturday Night Live
Guest Host
  • 1975
No Score Yet The Flip Wilson Show
  • 1974
  • 1973
No Score Yet The Partridge Family
  • 1971
No Score Yet The Wild Wild West
  • 1966
60% The Richard Pryor Show