Richard Pryor was married seven times before his death in 2005.
Two of those marriages were to Jennifer Lee. The pair were married from 1981 to 1982, and they married again in 2001. Lee and Pryor remained married until Pryor’s death.
Read on to learn more about their marriage and relationship.
1. They Met While Lee Was Working as an Interior Decorator
Lee and Pryor met in 1977, while Lee was working as an interior decorator. Pryor had recently purchased a home in California that needed decorating; Lee’s friend introduced her to Richard, and she began working with that friend to decorate the house.
Lee told People, “I was vaguely aware of him as an artist and that he had a reputation of being very hard-edged,” she said. “But when I met this man, he was completely the opposite. He was vulnerable and sweet. There’s a Polaroid that a friend of his took of us [when we met] and you can see in that picture how smitten I am with him. I think I fell in love.”
The two didn’t officially start dating until January 1978.
2. Lee Recently Opened up About Pryor’s Relationship With Marlon Brando
In February 2018, Quincy Jones alleged in an interview that Pryor had slept with Marlon Brando. Lee later confirmed the statement was true.
In the documentary I Am Richard Pryor, Lee dove further into Pryor and Brando’s relationship, saying, “It certainly wasn’t an affair, it was a dalliance with Brando, as he had with other men… Richard wasn’t gay, he just had dalliances. He preferred women over any other kind of experience, but he wasn’t loathe to have those experiences.”
She added, “Richard didn’t have any shame about it.”
When Lee opened up to TMZ in February 2018 about Quincy’s comments, she said, “It was the ’70s! Drugs were still good, especially quaaludes. If you did enough cocaine, you’d f*** a radiator and send it flowers in the morning.”
In their article, TMZ wrote, “Jennifer says she has no doubt Richard would be cracking up if he heard Quincy spilling the tea.”
3. She Moved out for the First Time Because of His Drug Addiction
When Lee left Richard for the first time, it was because of his drug habits. She tells People that she left specifically because she “realized Richard loved freebase cocaine…. as much, if not more, than he loved her.”
She tells the outlet, “It broke my heart.”
The couple married in 1981 but it didn’t last long, as Pryor reportedly hit Lee on their honeymoon.
“I said, ‘That’s not going to happen again, dude,’ “ Jennifer explained. “And he actually never did hit me again after that.”
4. Pryor and Lee Rekindled Their Romance After He Was Diagnosed With MS
After Pryor was diagnosed with MS, Lee says that Pryor asked her to come back to him. She tells the Daily Beast, “… thank God I did… I came back to a mess. People were selling what wasn’t nailed down, and I mean the children, the ex-wives, the girlfriends, business managers, lawyers. And I said there’s a new sheriff in town, close the bank of Pryor.”
They married for the second time in 2001, which was 19 years after they first divorced. At the time, Richard was in a wheelchair.
Lee tells the outlet of her final years with Pryor, “It’s not just about the party and the fun and when everything’s going well… It’s about the rough stuff. And here, you didn’t get any rougher. I had to deal with so many fires to put out—no pun intended.”
5. Pryor Was Married Seven Times to Five Different Women & Has Seven Children
Over the course of his life, Pryor was married seven times to five different women. He has seven children: Renee, Richard Jr., Elizabeth, Stephen Michael, Kelsey, Franklin and Rain.
Lee wasn’t the only woman who married Pryor twice– he was also married to Flynn Belaine from 1986 to 1987, and then again from 1990 to 1991. All Pryor’s marriages (apart from his last to Lee) lasted roughly a year.
When she started seeing Pryor, Lee was a struggling actress. She then found success in the world of acting and producing. Over the course of her career, she has appeared in a number of films and movies, including the TV movie Footsteps, Act of Vengeance, The Man in the Glass Booth, Slaves of New York and Bold Native, among others. Her last acting credit was in 2010.
To date, Lee’s Twitter bio reads, “White Honky Bitch widow of & married Richard Pryor Twice! Writer/producer/animal rescuer.”
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