Richard Pryor was an American comedian and actor who’s widely considered to be one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. He was born on December 1, 1941, in Peoria, Illinois, as Richard Franklin Lennox Thomas Pryor. Unfortunately, Pryor had a bleak childhood and an unstable family home. His mother was a prostitute in a brothel run by his grandmother while his father was a pimp. When his mother abandoned him, Pryor was abused both physically and sexually at home.
After being expelled from school, Pryor joined the military for a couple of years. In 1963, he moved to New York in the hope of making it big as a comedian. He started performing in clubs with other personalities such as Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, and Nina Simone. Pryor’s popularity quickly rose and he began appearing in mainstream television shows. In addition to his comedy work, he also wrote for television shows, acted in films, and collaborated with other artists, especially fellow comedian, Gene Wilder.
Throughout his career, Pryor won multiple awards and recognitions including a Primetime Emmy Award and five Grammy Awards. He also won the Writers Guild of America Award in 1974 and the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 1998. Pryor also topped the list of the greatest stand-up comedians in history by Comedy Central and Rolling Stone. Thanks to his unique performance style, Pryor has cemented his role in the entertainment industry as a true icon.
And just like other icons, Pryor was anything but ordinary. In fact, the comedian was extremely controversial. From his use of profanity to his relationships, everything he did made headlines. Even after he died in 2005, Pryor still made the news after revelations about his sexuality broke out. So, was Richard Pryor gay? Let’s settle the score once and for all.
VOTE: What was Richard Pryor’s Sexuality?
Richard Pryor’s List Of Marriages
Pryor’s long list of marriages was just as famous as his extensive career. The actor was married at least seven times to five different women. In some cases, he married, divorced, and remarried the same woman. He also had seven children in total, including a daughter he had when he was just 16 years old.
In 1961, Pryor met his first wife, Patricia Price, and they were married for a year. Not long after that, the comedian met Shelley Bonus whom he stayed with for another couple of years. Both relationships ended in divorce. Apparently, Pryor had a history of alcohol addiction and physical abuse which may explain the short-term affairs.
During the late 70s, Pryor crossed paths with actress, Pam Grier while they were filming “Greased Lightning.” They had an instant connection with Grier even helping the comedian learn how to read. Unfortunately for the actress, Pryor was also seeing another woman, a model and actress named Deborah McGuire. They tied the knot in 1977 but split up more than a year later.
Later in 1981, Pryor once again got married, this time, to actress and interior designer, Jennifer Lee. This would prove to be the comedian’s longest relationship. However, it wasn’t without its ups and downs. After their first wedding, the couple immediately faced challenges due to Pryor’s ongoing drug addiction. They eventually divorced the following year, but reconciled in 2001. At that point, Pryor and Lee remarried and stayed together until his death in 2005.
During his split with Lee, Pryor was also married to another woman named Flynn Belaine. She was an aspiring actress who met the comedian while he was out on tour. They got married in October 1986, but unsurprisingly, went their separate ways in 1987. Staying true to his pattern, Pryor remarried Belaine in 1990 but filed for divorce again in 1991. Shortly after that, the comedian reunited with his ex-wife, Jennifer Lee.
Richard Pryor’s Affairs, Controversies, And Sexuality
In 2018, Quincy Jones dropped a bombshell when he revealed that Pryor had many affairs and relationships with men including Hollywood A-lister, Marlon Brando. This claim was later backed up by the comedian’s wife, Jennifer Lee. However, it’s worth noting that Pryor’s son, Rain, stated that this wasn’t true.
Apparently, this wasn’t the first time that Pryor’s sexuality came up in conversation. In a biography written by Scott Saul titled “Becoming Richard Pryor,” he mentioned that the comedian was open about his bisexuality. In fact, he was openly gay around his close friends and spoke about his sexual adventures with men.
Even Pryor himself admitted in his autobiography, “Pryor Convictions,” that he had a short-lived relationship with a transwoman. He called it his “two weeks of being gay.” The comedian has also included his sexual escapades in his stand-up routines. In one particular special of “Live & Smokin’,” Pryor revealed that he had indeed performed fellatio.
Despite these revelations, it’s important to note that Pryor wasn’t strict when it came to labels. According to rumors, he didn’t consider himself gay, but someone who just enjoyed exploring sex. His refusal to label his sexuality may have stemmed from the fact that being an openly gay black comedian could have stopped his career.
Aside from his sexuality, Pryor also made it to the headlines because of his other controversies. This included his alcohol and drug addiction, high-profile affairs, and battery cases.
Was Richard Pryor Gay?
Yes, Richard Pryor was gay. Even though he was married seven times and had children, the comedian still engaged in romantic and sexual affairs with men. One of his most famous relationships included a brief fling with actor, Marlon Brando. Although the sources are highly disputed, there are grounds for this rumor to be true. Pryor wasn’t a big fan of labels, but at this point, it’s safe for fans to assume that he was gay or at least bisexual.