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OFF Topic: Richard Pryor Dies December 10, 2005 3:08 PM

Richard Pryor© APRichard Pryor
Pathbreaking Comedian Richard Pryor Dies
Dec 10, 4:41 PM EST
The Associated Press

Richard Pryor, the caustic yet perceptive actor-comedian who lived dangerously close to the edge both on stage and off, died Saturday. He was 65.

Pryor died shortly before 8 a.m. of a heart attack after being taken to a hospital from his home in the San Fernando Valley, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

"We loved him and will miss you," his ex-wife, Flynn Pryor, said from her Florida home.

Pryor was regarded early in his career as one of the most foul-mouthed comics in the business, but he gained a wide following for his expletive-filled but universal and frequently personal insights into modern life and race relations.

His audacious style influenced an array of stand-up artists, including Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and Damon Wayans, as well as Robin Williams, David Letterman and others.

A series of hit comedies in the '70s and '80s, as well as filmed versions of his concert performances, helped make him Pryor one of the highest paid stars in Hollywood. He was one of the first black performers to have enough leverage to cut his own Hollywood deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

His films included "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."

Throughout his career, Pryor focused on racial inequality, once joking as the host of the 1977 Academy Awards that Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier were the only black members of the Academy.

Pryor once marveled "that I live in racist America and I'm uneducated, yet a lot of people love me and like what I do, and I can make a living from it. You can't do much better than that."

In 1980, he nearly lost his life when he suffered severe burns over 50 percent of his body while freebasing cocaine at his home. An admitted "junkie" at the time, Pryor spent six weeks recovering from the burns and much longer from drug and alcohol dependence.

He battled multiple sclerosis throughout the '90s.

In his last movie, the 1991 bomb "Another You," Pryor's poor health was clearly evident.

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Not so off topic .... December 10, 2005 4:01 PM

FromDavid Malmo-Levine on Cannabis Culture Forum

November 30, 1999
From The Boston Globe
Author: Delores Kong, Globe Staff


In an indication of growing public support for legalizing marijuana for medical use, scores of celebrities, health officials, and members of Congress joined yesterday in protesting a new US medical marijuana research policy for lacking compassion and being "too cumbersome."

The policy spells out the conditions under which studies involving marijuana can be conducted: conditions that critics say are so stringent as to make the research virtually impossible. Critics also argue that current policy fails to allow a sufficient number of medically approved patients to receive marijuana through "compassionate use" programs.

Signing on to letters of protest yesterday were actors Susan Sarandon and Woody Harrelson; comedians Richard Pryor and Bill Maher; Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould; rock band Hootie & The Blowfish; former US surgeon general Joycelyn Elders; and former Reagan administration official Lyn Nofziger.

Oliver Stone was also a signatory to an ad which appeared in the March 6, 2002 New York Times. The ad promoted legalizing the medicinal use of marijuana, and was endorsed by dozens of religious leaders, over 300 elected officials from 42 states, and stacks of celebrities, including Bill Maher, Richard Pryor, Anjelica Huston, Hugh Downs, Walter Cronkite, Michelle Phillips, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Sharon Stone, Lily Tomlin and many others.
From any of these celebrities we could leap into whole constellations of stoner stars. For example, we could go with Sharon Stone, who in a 1999 Movieline interview said that marijuana was "terrific" and should be legalized. Or we could go with Richard Pryor, who currently uses marijuana to ease the symptoms of his multiple sclerosis.

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