On June 9, 1980, comedian Richard Pryor suffered near-fatal burns at his home when a mixture of free-base cocaine exploded. Test your knowledge of this comedy legend with these trivia questions...
How Did Pryor Catch on Fire? While Pryor was in the middle of making the movie Bustin’ Loose, he was known to spend time freebasing cocaine at his home. In a film documentary entitled Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, he admitted to the interviewer that catching himself on fire was a suicide attempt, not an accident. It was believed that he had poured most of a bottle of rum over his body and lit it. Help was called and he was found running down the street ablaze. After being taken to the Grossman Burn Center in Sherman Oaks, his physician reported that he had third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body. However, he survived against the odds. He was in the hospital for six weeks.
Director Mel Brooks Wanted Pryor to Play the Lead in What Movie? Mel Brooks was a big fan of Richard Pryor's, so much so that Brooks tagged Pryor to help co-write and star in possibly his most iconic film, Blazing Saddles. Brooks wanted Pryor to play one of the film's lead roles: Sheriff Bart. However, when Brooks went around to the studios to gather funding for production, no one was willing to commit money to the film with Pryor attached to it. His drug use and often raunchy comedic style were too much of a risk for big movie executives and so Brooks was left with no choice but to cast someone else—Cleavon Little—for the role. Pryor still earned a writing credit for the film, but this is just one instance of Pryor's drug habit costing him a big opportunity.
Which Television Icon Threatened to Quit His Job to Get Pryor on the Show? In 1975, Saturday Night Live was in its first season and Lorne Michaels wasn't quite the big shot he is today. It was still the first season of the show and Lorne desperately wanted Pryor to host. NBC was understandably hesitant—Pryor wasn't known for having the "cleanest" mouth in show business and a live show was a big risk. But Lorne was so adamant that he threatened to quit the show if Pryor wasn't allowed on. The network agreed to let him host, but Lorne was required to put in a 5-second buffer on the live stream in case Pryor went off-script.
How Many Times was Richard Pryor Married? Know the expression "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me"? Will Richard Pryor certainly didn't. Pryor married a whopping seven times to five different women throughout his 65 years. One of his groomsmen recalls Pryor walking into his hotel room mere hours after his first wedding to Jennifer Lee and proclaiming he wanted a divorce. Despite their separation, Lee was the true love of Pryor's life. The two rekindled their relationship 19 years later and stayed together until Pryor's death in 2005.