Richard Pryor


Richard Pryor : biography

December 1, 1940 – December 10, 2005

Freebasing incident

On June 9, 1980, during the making of the film Bustin’ Loose, Richard Pryor set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine and drinking 151-proof rum. While on fire, he ran down Parthenia Street from his Northridge, California home, until being subdued by police. He was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for burns covering more than half of his body. Pryor spent six weeks in recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. His daughter, Rain Pryor, stated that Pryor poured high-proof rum over his body and set himself on fire in a bout of drug-induced psychosis.Interview with Rain Pryor, November 6, 2006, edition of People, page 76.

Pryor incorporated a description of the incident into his comedy show Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip in 1982. He joked that the event was caused by dunking a cookie into a glass of low-fat and pasteurized milk, causing an explosion. At the end of the bit, he poked fun at people who told jokes about it by waving a lit match and saying, "What’s that? Richard Pryor running down the street."

After his "final performance", Pryor did not stay away from stand-up comedy long. In 1983, he filmed and released a new concert film and accompanying album, Richard Pryor: Here and Now, which he directed himself. In 1986, he wrote and directed a fictionalized account of his life, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling which revolved around the 1980 freebasing incident.

Marriages and relationships

Pryor was married seven times to five different women:

  1. Patricia Price (1960–1961, divorced) with one child named Richard Pryor Jr.
  2. Shelley Bonis (1967–1969, divorced) with one child named Rain Pryor
  3. Deborah McGuire (September 22, 1977 – 1978, divorced)
  4. Jennifer Lee (August 1981 – October 1982, divorced)
  5. Flynn Belaine (October 1986 – July 1987, divorced) with son Steven (born before the marriage) and daughter Kelsey (before divorce finalized)
  6. Flynn Belaine (1 April 1990 – July 1991, divorced)
  7. Jennifer Lee (June 29, 2001 – December 10, 2005, his death)

His marriages were characterized by accusations of domestic violence, except for his relationship with Belaine. Most of these allegations were connected to Pryor’s drug use. The exception was Patricia Price, who was married to Pryor before his rise to stardom. During his relationship with Pam Grier, Pryor proposed to Deborah McGuire in 1977.

He had six children: Richard Jr., Elizabeth, Rain, Steven, Franklin and Kelsey.

In 1984, his fourth child and second son, Steven, was born to his girlfriend Flynn Belaine. Pryor married Belaine in October 1986. They divorced in July 1987. Before their divorce was final, Belaine conceived Kelsey Pryor. Meanwhile, another of Pryor’s girlfriends, Geraldine Mason, gave birth to Franklin Mason, his fifth child and third son, in April 1987. Six months later in October 1987, Belaine gave birth to Kelsey Pryor, Richard’s sixth child and third daughter.

Pryor had a relationship with actress Margot Kidder.Nathan Rabin. The A.V. Club, March 3, 2009



Official canon
  • 1968 – Richard Pryor (Dove/Reprise)
  • 1971 – Craps (After Hours) (Laff Records, reissued 1993 by Loose Cannon/Island)
  • 1974 – That Nigger’s Crazy, (Partee/Stax, reissued 1975 by Reprise)
  • 1975 – …Is It Something I Said?, (Reprise, reissued 1991 on CD by Warner Archives)
  • 1976 – Holy Smoke!, (Laff)
  • 1976 – Bicentennial Nigger, (Reprise)
  • 1976 – L.A. Jail, (Tiger Lily)
  • 1977 – Are You Serious ???, (Laff)
  • 1977 – Who Me? I’m Not Him, (Laff)
  • 1978 – Black Ben The Blacksmith, (Laff)
  • 1978 – The Wizard of Comedy, (Laff)
  • 1978 – Wanted: Live in Concert (2-LP set), (Warner Bros. Records);Others
  • 1979 – Outrageous, (Laff)
  • 1980 – Insane, (Laff)
  • 1981 – Rev. Du Rite, (Laff)
  • 1982 – Richard Pryor Live! (picture disc), (Phoenix/Audiofidelity)
  • 1982 – Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (Warner Bros. Records)
  • 1983 – Here and Now, (Warner Bros. Records)
  • 1983 – Supernigger, (Laff)