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Richard Pryor dead at age 65


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Pathbreaking Comedian Richard Pryor Dies

 

The Associated Press

Posted December 10 2005, 4:24 PM EST

 

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, has died. He was 65.

 

He died sometime late Friday or early Saturday of a heart attack at his home in the San Fernando Valley, according to his ex-wife Flyn Pryor.

 

Pryor, whose audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

 

Regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, Pryor gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

 

Among those most influenced by his comedy were fellow black artists such as Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damoy Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others. Pryor's pioneering success made their roads to stardom all the smoother.

 

A series of hit comedies in the '70s and '80s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, helped make him one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was 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.

 

Among his films: "Stir Crazy,""Silver Streak,""The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings,""Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."

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