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Richard Pryor Essay

737 words - 3 pages

Richard Pryor has a key influence on many modern comedians because he took standup comedy to greater heights. Pryor is well-known for his colorful language and his efforts to knock down the racial barrier. He was such a shock to the world because he said things that no one dared.
Pryor was born December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois. In Peoria, he had a rough childhood living next door to a brothel ran by his grandmother and his mother even being a prostitute. Abandoned by his mother at the tender age of ten, he experienced an absence of a maternal figure growing up. His father, a WWII veteran, was a bartender and boxer who was an alcoholic and not necessarily a “fit father.” As a young teen, he was moved into his grandparents’ home, along with his other siblings. Throughout his life, Pryor was molested by a teenage neighbor and a Catholic priest. To escape this tyranny, he would spend his time in a local theater. In school, Pryor was noticed as a class clown. However at age fourteen, his clownery ways resulted in him being expelled from school. As a result of his consequences, Pryor began to work a string of jobs to help out his family.

Pryor served in the military for 2 years before being discharged in 1958 after a physical altercation with a fellow soldier. Following his release, Richard Pryor married Patricia Price and had one child before their short-lived union came to an end. To provide for his family, he began to sing in small urban clubs in the bustling towns of East St. Louis and Pittsburgh. In 1967, he got his feet wet in the movie business with minor roles such as “The Busy Body” and “Wild Streets.” Pryor was barely acknowledged until 1972 when he landed the role of drug-addicted piano player in the movie “Lady Sings the Blues.” His role captured the attention of film critics and movie watchers worldwide. Pryor attributed to the success of many more films and left audiences in awe. In 1983, he starred in Superman III, which earned him $4 million. In 1989, Pryor worked together with famous comedians Redd Foxx and Eddie Murphy in...

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