Comedian and actor Richard Pryor passed away on December 10, 2005 when he was 65 years old. He was known for his storytelling style in his stand-up, as well as his use of intense language and expletives. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential stand-up comedians of all time
He began his career in 1963 after he moved to New York City, where he spent time performing in comic clubs alongside Bob Dylan and Woody Allen. Soon after, he began appearing on shows like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Merv Griffin Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He went on to become a successful comic in Las Vegas.
Throughout his career, Pryor won many awards; in 1973, he was awarded an Emmy Award. In 1974, ’75, ’76, ’81 and ’82, he won Grammy Awards. He also won two American Academy of Humor awards and a Writers Guild of America Award. Pryor was the first-ever honoree of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He’s been ranked as one of the best stand-up comics of all time.
Here’s what you should know about Richard Pryor’s kids and family:
1. He Was Married Seven Times
Throughout his life, Richard Pryor had five wives, but he got married a total of seven times. His married Patricia Price in 1960, but the two got divorced in 1961.
In 1967, Pryor married Shelley Bonus. The two were together until 1969, when they separated. He then married Deborah McGuire, an aspiring model and actress, on September 22, 1977. They had dated on and off for four years before getting married. The couple separated in January 1978, and the divorce was finalized in 1978.
Next, Pryor married Jennifer Lee, an actress and interior designer. They got married in August 1981 and divorced due to his drug addiction in October 1982. A few years later, in 1986, Pryor married Flynn Belaine, another aspiring actress. They divorced in July 1987 but remarried on April 1 1990, divorcing again in July 1991.
On June 29, 2001, Pryor remarried Jennifer Lee. They remained married until the time of his death.
2. He Had Seven Children
Pryor had seven children with six different women. His first child was born when he was just 16 years old. Renee Pryor was born on February 13, 1957. His next son, Richard Pryor Jr., was born on July 31, 1962 to Pryor and his first wife, Patricia Price.
His third child was born on April 28, 1967. Elizabeth Ann is the child of Pryor and his girlfriend at the time, Maxine Anderson. Rain Pryor, who is now a stand-up comic like her father, was born on July 16, 1969 to Pryor and Shelley Bonus.
Pryor had two children with his fifth wife, Flynn Belaine. Steven was born on August 1, 1984, and Kelsey was born on October 25, 1987. Lastly, Franklin Pryor, the child of Pryor and Geraldine Mason, was born on April 11, 1987.
3. His Grandmother Ran a Brothel
Pryor was born in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up in the brothel that was run by his grandmother, Marie Carter. His mother, Gertrude L. Thomas, worked at the brothel as a sex worker at the time. His father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor, was a former boxer and hustler.
Gertrude chose to quit working as a sex worker when Richard was 10 years old, leaving him to be raised by his grandmother, who would beat him if he stepped out of line. Pryor was one of four children raised in the brothel.
After being expelled from school at the age of 14, Pryor became a Freemason at a local lodge. He later served in the U.S. Army but spent most of the stint in army prison after being incarcerated for an incident that occurred in West Germany.
4. His Daughter Rain is a Speaker
Rain Pryor grew up to be an actor and writer. She has had roles in movies and film, such as playing Jackie in the TV movie Hillary and Maxine Baker in The New N Word.
Rain lived with her mother after her parents’ divorce when she was just 6 months old. She says she lived what was essentially a normal life, despite her father’s fame. She moved to Baltimore to get away from “all the Hollywood craziness.” She has since become very involved with the community in Baltimore; in July 2019, she announced a plan to run for Baltimore City Council in 2020, seeking to run as a Democrat.
In addition to running for city council, Rain is an MS Ambassador. Her father suffered from the disease in his later years. Her commitment has her hosting and speaking around the world to educate people about treatment options.
5. His Son Wrote a Memoir About Growing Up With Pryor
Richard Pryor Jr. wrote a memoir about what it was like growing up with Richard Pryor as his father. He says he was just 6 years old when he realized that his father was different than the other fathers.
Pryor Jr. was raised by his mother, Patricia Price, while his father toured. He spent time with his dad in California when he was old enough, and he would go see his father perform in his comedy shows. He talked about how different his mother’s family would act when his father visited.
“The energy was different,” he told Fox News. “I didn’t know what he did, but I knew it was something different. I didn’t realize that thing was celebrity until I was probably around 12 years old… And I knew I couldn’t listen to his albums or anything. I would have to sneak out and do what I had to do so I could listen to exactly what I wasn’t allowed to hear.”
Pryor’s memoir, titled “In a Pryor Life,” released in 2019.