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June 07, 2020

Pam Grier of 'Foxy' Once Taught Richard Pryor How to Read Moby Dick

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"Foxy" star Pam Grier once helped comedy legend Richard Pryor improve his reading skills when the couple dated in the 70s.

Richard Pryor will always be remembered as one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

However, with only an eighth-grade education, the performer was considerably less skilled in reading. This was revealed in the 2014 book, Becoming Richard Pryor (by Scott Saul).

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While consolidating his presence in the movie industry with the lead role in the 1977 movie Greased Lightning, Pryor got romantically involved with the then-upcoming actress Pam Grier. 

The two once had a spat on the set due to Pryor's lateness. Grier later said in an interview with Film Society that Pryor fell in love with her after the incident. She said:

"I walked off and respected myself, and that's when he fell in love with me."

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Grier reportedly had quite an influence on the comedian as she helped him with his insecurities, which stemmed mostly from his poor educational background. 

The actress allegedly helped him improve his reading, while Pryor's interest in classics such as War and Peace served as motivation.

Grier broke it off when he was converting to Islam and asked her to become his Muslim wife.

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The couple later settled down together, for a while, before old habits and peer influences eventually got the better of Pryor, sending him spiraling back into a life of drug abuse. Grier recalled:

"With Richard...he liked the fact... being pure. And I said 'But you're in a world of men. You're not going to listen to me.' I knew that."

Grier eventually ended their relationship due to Pryor's deteriorating drug problem, which later led to the comedian pouring alcohol on himself and setting his body ablaze, an incident he survived thanks to the intercession of police officers.

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Grier has quite a history of romantic involvement with struggling male celebrities. A few years earlier, the Colorado-born actress had been involved with Basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Grier broke it off when he was converting to Islam and asked her to become his Muslim wife. She later dated Freddie Prinze, who introduced her to Pryor.

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"They were trying to change themselves to keep me in their lives. But I couldn't change them. I struggle with that, with letting go," Pam said.

Pryor died of a heart attack in 2005 while Grier, 70, now lives quietly on her ranch in her hometown. She is still somewhat active in the movie industry and frequents California from Colorado whenever she's in production.

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