Redd Foxx was born in 1922 and died in 1991. He was a great comedian and entertainer. He died on a set, doing what he loved to do, making people laugh.
Redd and friend Della Reese co-starred in a movie called, "Harlem Nights." The CBS network liked their performance and sign the two of them to act in a new sitcom called, "The Royal Family." While on the set, he suffered a massive heart attack and died. It was October 11, 1991.
John Elroy Sanford was born on December 9, 1922 in St. Louis, and with his ruddy complexion, soon got the nickname of “Redd.” He got the name “Foxx” from Jimmie Foxx, a major league baseball player.
He moved to Chicago at 13, and played washboard in a band to support himself. Next he moved to New York City and became a comedian in black nightclubs and theaters. In the early 1950s, he performed with Slappy White, who later acted with him on "Sanford and Son" and "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour." He produced over 50 comedy albums in his lifetime.
In 1972, Norman Lear created a new sit-com called, "Sanford and Son," which co-starred Demond Wilson and La Wanda Page. The show was a huge success, ranking in the top ten almost every week it was on the air.
He left the sitcom in 1977 to work for ABC. He launched his own show, "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour,” which had a very short life. Next, it was on to Las Vegas, where he was very successful. He had another sitcom for ABC called "The Redd Foxx Show.” On it, he played a likable newsstand owner, but that show did not do well, either.
Redd gained a lot of notice because of his comedy album, “Laff of the Party.” It was produced in 1955 and sold over 15 million copies. Redd is very well known because of his comedy album and his portrayal of a junkman in “Sanford and Son." He pulled from his older days of performing in rowdy nightclubs to portray Fred Sanford.
He often pretended to suffer a heart attack, which was a bit of real life foreshadowing. Cocaine use probably contributed to his heart attack. He made no secret of it, wearing a gold coke spoon around his neck and doing drugs on the set of “Sanford and Son.”
It is said that he helped pave the way for black performers in comedy and acting. He was one of the “blue” comedians of his era. Their jokes were dirtier than was acceptable for white audiences; in fact, many record stores that sold mostly to white people wouldn’t sell his comedy records.
He was known for being frank on stage, and joked about everything from sex to color barriers, and brought controversial issues out into the open. His style not only caused a lot of trouble with censors, but enabled other comedians to take the baton and continue breaking new ground in entertainment.
Some of his more famous lines are:
- Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.
- Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
- I'm convinced that ‘Sanford and Son’ shows middle-class America a lot of what they need to know.
- Hey! Leave the door open will ya? The flies haven’t been out all day.
- The show doesn't drive home a lesson, but it can open up people's minds enough for them to see how stupid every kind of prejudice can be.
- This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth? I'm coming to join ya, honey!