Richard Pryor was a well-known comedian and actor. His super-stardom
started in the 1960's. He headlined many comedy shows, tours,
and even made some acting appearances in some movies such as Car
Wash, Superman III, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and in Stir Crazy.
Pryor was extremely successful and even won 5 Grammy Awards for
his comedy albums. Richard Pryor seemed to have it all, but things
went wrong when he started to develop a couple of addictions.
Little was known about Richard Pryor's addictions in the early
years that it manifested. The public did not know anything about
his addictions until an incident that occurred on June 9, 1980.
Richard Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine. During
the day, he was making the movie Bustin' Loose.
Richard Pryor was using cocaine and drinking rum at the time of
this incident and set himself on fire purposely. He had been watching
T.V. and saw a Buddhist Monk light himself on fire and decided
to mimic him.
Richard was not thinking
clearly due to the drugs and alcohol in his system.
He suffered 3rd degree burns that covered more than half of this
body and had to spend six weeks in the hospital for treatment.
Richard Pryor clearly had a drug and alcohol problem and the public
now knew it. Pryor was lucky to have survived the fire incident
and decided to use this mistake in his comedy shows. He joked
about him setting himself on fire and used the horrible experience
as a way to further his career. Pryor was embraced by the public
as a vulnerable human being and his career continued onward.
Richard Pryor had a hard life as a child which is probably what
sparked his addiction to drugs. Pryor's mother was a prostitute
and his father was a bartender. His parents split up at a young
age which left Pryor with his mother. He was raised in a brothel
and had to witness things that no child should ever have to see.
These tragic events in his life could have been what caused him
to turn to drugs for comfort.
People with past traumas
are more likely to use drugs than those who don't
experience trauma. Pryor used all of his horrible experiences
as material for his comedies. His fans embraced him and the troubled
life he came from.
In later years, Pryor seemed to have overcome his drug addictions
as he didn't make news like he did in his younger days. He seemed
to be healthy. He did not have any similar accidents and he appeared
to have gotten his life back on track. He later wrote a book about
his life that explained many things about himself that nobody
knew towards the ending of his career. Richard's book, Pryor Convictions:
and Other Life Sentences was successful just like the rest of
In the End ...
Unfortunately Pryor would still have to deal with multiple health
problems near the end of his life. Two heart attacks, triple bypass
surgery and multiple sclerosis sealed the fate of Richard Pryor.
He died December 10, 2005 from a heart attack at age 65.