Think you knew everything about the late Richard Pryor, one of the most influential stand-up comedians of all time? Think again.
In his 1995 autobiography, “Pryor Convictions,” Richard Pryor actually admitted to carrying on a two-week love affair with a transgendered man saying, “I never kept him a secret. My best friend for instance, knew I was f**king a dude, and a drop-dead gorgeous one at that. I even admitted doing something different was exciting. But after two weeks of being gay, enough was enough and I went back to life as a h***y heterosexual.”
Now how did that get by us?
Here are some other items about the great comedian you may have missed:
He Suffered From Performance Anxiety– At times, Richard Pryor was terrified before he performed on stage. One night he walked on stage and after looking into the sold out crowd, he yelled, “What the f**k am I doing here!?,” and walked off stage. In speaking about Pryor’s stage anxiety, singer Nina Simone stated, “He shook like he had malaria, he was so nervous. I couldn’t bear to watch him shiver, so I put my arms around him there in the dark and rocked him like a baby until he calmed down. The next night was the same, and the next, and I rocked him each time.”
He Was An Animal Lover– Richard Pryor was quite active in animal rights. He was mostly concerned with the plight of circus and zoo animals. PETA, the animal rights organization, annually gives out the Richard Pryor award to people who do work in helping to alleviate animal suffering.
He Had Issues– In addition to suffering from two heart attacks and multiple sclerosis, (the latter which confined him to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life), Richard Pryor had a public battle with drugs and alcohol. In the 1980’s during the filming of his hit movie “Bustin’ Loose”, Pryor set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine. The incident left him with burns covering more than half his body. He was very public about his issues and fully documented certain life events in his movie, “JoJo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling.”
He Was A Player– During his brief relationship with actress Pam Grier, Richard Pryor proposed to his third wife Deborah McGuire. Over the years, he was married seven times to five different women and produced six children. He was known to have dated actress Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane in the Superman movies.
He Is A Survivor– Pryor grew up in a brothel ran by his grandmother. His mother, an admitted prostitute, and his father, a hustler, abandoned Pryor when he was just 10 years old. His grandmother, who raised him, was quite abusive and beat him for almost anything. He was also sexually abused at the age of 7.
His Legacy Lives On– Comediennes Chris Rock and Adam Sandler are producing a biopic film on Richard Pryor’s life titled, “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic.” Actor Marlon Wayans is scheduled to play a young Pryor.