August 09, 2020

Remembering Comedian Richard Pryor Who Died at 65 –– Inside the Circumstances of His Death

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Many regard Richard Pryor to be one of the greatest comedic acts ever to live. The stand-up comedy genius thrilled millions throughout his illustrious career, but sadly, it all came to an abrupt and sad end. 

Richard Pryor died in 2005 at 65, and he was unable to live long enough to entertain his fans as much as he would have liked. While the death stunned many at the time, the cause of death was also quite painful. 

Richard Pryor attending the "Night of 100 Stars" in March 1982. | Photo: Getty Images


When Pryor died, his business manager, Karen Finch, explained that he had been taken to a hospital in the San Fernando Valley. For several years, he had battled with multiple sclerosis — a disease that affects the nervous system. 

It’s unclear what had caused the multiple sclerosis issue. However, one thing that many knew about Pryor was his problem with alcohol and substance abuse. 

Pryor rose to fame when it was pretty challenging for people of color. He had a unique brand of comedy which included blunt satire and foul-mouthed jokes. 


While many saw his comedic style as unorthodox, it quickly grew on people. Pryor’s fans loved him for being blunt and not afraid to say what he felt. 

Sadly, the trappings of Hollywood caught up to him, too. He soon began to drink at some alarming levels which all affected his mind and body. 

Despite all of  Pryor's success, however, the addiction remained a constant in his life.


It’s always worth remembering a legend like Pryor for the amazing work he did. An Illinois native, he starred in a handful of movies and won several awards over his career. 

However, his true talents always lied in comedy. Upon his death, famous music producer Quincy Jones said:

“He was the Charlie Parker of comedy, a master of telling the truth that influenced every comedian that came after him.”


Pryor started his professional comedic career in 1963. Over his career, he won one Emmy Award, five Grammy Awards, and he was the first-ever honoree of the Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. 

Despite all of Pryor's success, however, the addiction remained a constant in his life. Things got so tense that he once tried to kill himself. 

Richard Pryor and ex-wife Jennifer Lee in 1995 | Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, recalled an incident where he had set himself on fire. As she explained, Pryor had told her to leave the house as he “knew what to do to get out.”

She explained that she left and after calling the house a few times, someone answered and said he had been running around the house on fire.