“LOS ANGELES Dec 10, 2005 â€” Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, died Saturday. He was 65.
Pryor, who had been ill with multiple sclerosis, died at Encino Hospital near Los Angeles, at 7:58 a.m. PT.
“He did not suffer, he went quickly and at the end there was a smile on his face,” his wife, Jennifer Pryor, said. “I’m honored now that I have an opportunity to protect and continue his legacy because he’s a very, very, very amazing man and he opened doors to so many people.”Pryor’s audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others.
He was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.
A series of hit comedies in the ’70s and ’80s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, turned him into one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was also one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own Hollywood deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.
His films included “Stir Crazy,” “Silver Streak,” “Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling,” and “Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip.”
Throughout his career, Pryor focused on racial inequality, once joking as the host of the 1977 Academy Awards that Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier were the only black members of the Academy.
Pryor once marveled “that I live in racist America and I’m uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can’t do much better than that.”
I always enjoyed his comedy.