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What Caused Richard Pryor’s Death? The Comedian Was Inducted into the Netflix Hall of Fame

Edduin Carvajal
May 23, 2022
04:15 P.M.
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Late comedian Richard Pryor was one of the four comedians honored in Netflix's "The Hall," an induction ceremony that is part of the National Comedy Center.

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"The Hall" is an annual ceremony held at the Netflix is a Joke festival where four late comedians get inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame. The 2022 honorees were Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Robin Williams, and George Carlin.

As part of the ceremony, four present-day comedians share tributes to the inductees. Dave Chappelle honored Pryor and even called him the greatest of all times. But when and why did Richard Pryor die?

Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder in Hollywood, California, in 1989 | Source: Getty Images

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WHO WAS RICHARD PRYOR?

Born on December 1, 1940, Richard Pryor had a challenging upbringing in Peoria, Illinois. He grew up in his grandmother's brothel and experienced many traumatic events before turning 13.

At the age of 14, his school kicked him out for a "petty offense," so he had to earn a living taking odd jobs. He was everything from a janitor and meatpacker to a truck driver and drummer.

Richard Pryor on November 1, 1977, in "Midday Live" | Source: Getty Images

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Pryor also played the piano and sang at cabarets and clubs in Illinois, but he soon realized people preferred his jokes over his music. Inspired by Bill Cosby, Pryor created a stand-up routine, performed throughout the Midwest, and went to New York in 1963.

It was the best decision of his career as his comedy skills attracted plenty of attention and made him a star. He debuted on television in 1966, and NBC gave him "The Richard Pryor Show" in 1977.

After acting in Hollywood films and TV series and performing stand-up shows throughout the States, Pryor became a comedy legend and paved the way for other Black artists.

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HOW DID RICHARD DIE?

Unfortunately, Pryor was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 1986. MS is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. Still, Pryor kept doing comedy and making jokes about his afflictions.

Pryor could have died 25 years earlier in a fire he started.

On December 10, 2005, Pryor had a heart attack in his San Fernando Valley home. He was taken to Encino Hospital, but doctors failed to resuscitate him. He died at 65.

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It was not the first time he had suffered a heart attack. In 1990, Pryor had a massive heart attack and needed triple-bypass surgery. A forensic pathologist said his final heart attack was probably the result of coronary artery disease.

His widow Jennifer Lee revealed Pryor passed away with a smile on his face. He left behind seven kids from six different relationships. It is essential to point out that Pryor was married seven times to five women (he married Lee twice).

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WHAT HAPPENED TO RICHARD IN THE FIRE INCIDENT?

Richard Pryor could have died 25 years earlier in a fire he started. It happened in June 1980, shortly after telling Lee that he wanted to end his life and warning her not to be home if she didn't want to get hurt.

After the incident, which Lee described as a suicide attempt, Pryor was rushed to the Sherman Oaks Community Hospital to be treated for severe burns on over 50 percent of his body.

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Pryor struggled with drug addiction for years, and he had previously set his bed on fire while doing freebase cocaine. He was a comedic genius, but he fought several demons.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "help" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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