68 (passed away Oct. 11th, 1991)
Dec. 9th, 1922
St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Redd Foxx's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles1989 - Harlem Nights
Guest TV Roles
Redd Foxx began doing stand-up comedy on the infamous "Chitlin' Circuit" in the 1940s and 1950s. Foxx was one of the premier "blue humor" comedians. Blue humor was very dirty, too dirty for white audiences. For years his party albums were not available in white record stores. In the 1960s his records became available, although marginally in white record stores, leading to minor comedy work on "Toast of the Town" (1948) (aka "The Ed Sullivan Show") and "The Red Skelton Show" (1951), among other classic variety shows of the time. Foxx developed a fan base in the 1960s that led to increased notoriety. He received his own television series in 1972 called "Sanford and Son" (1972), which was a reworking of the British sitcom "Steptoe and Son" (1962). Foxx's character, Fred Sanford (was actually Foxx's brother's name), was a cranky old man who was set in his ways and would insult both friends and strangers at the drop of a hat. He ran a junkyard in Watts, a bad neighborhood in Los Angeles, with his son Lamont (played by Demond Wilson). The show broke down racial stereotypes and was a huge success, making Foxx and the show household names. Foxx fought a very public battle with the writers and producers of the show, claiming that they did not do enough to promote the black experience, and in general complained there were not enough black writers or producers in the entertainment industry. These highly publicized disputes led to the show faltering artistically, but not in the ratings. Foxx left the show in 1977 to accomplish his dream on ABC: his own variety show, which lasted less than a year. He also starred in the controversial film Norman... Is That You? (1976).
Foxx's trouble with the law and the Internal Revenue Service hampered his career in the early 1980s. He flopped yet again with the sitcom "The Redd Foxx Show" (1986) on ABC. He did, however, find success playing a ghost in the TV movie Ghost of a Chance (1987) (TV), with 'Dick van Dyke'. The late 1980s found Foxx on a rebound, as he starred with Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy (I) in the popular Harlem Nights (1989), which showcased the three premiere black comedians of their respective generations. A whole new generation of comedians begin claiming Redd Foxx as a major influence on their careers, including Murphy and Pryor. Foxx looked like he was finding success 20 years after "Sanford and Son" (1972) with "The Royal Family" (1991). However, we will never know if the show would have been a success--while rehearsing for an episode, Foxx collapsed and was rushed to a hospital. He died in October of 1991. Redd Foxx will be remembered as a pioneering comedian who influenced generations of comedians and helped break down racial barriers in the the entertainment industry. His influence seems as strong as ever.
- During his early life as a dishwasher, he was called "Chicago Red" to distinguish him from his friend "Detroit Red". "Detroit Red" would later become famous as the political activist-social critic and Black nationalist known as 'Malcolm X' (qv).
- Fred Sanford, Foxx's character on _"Sanford and Son" (1972)_ (qv), was ranked #42 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
- He was nicknamed "Zorro" which is Spanish for "fox".
- Had no biological children, but when he married Betty Jean Harris, he adopted her daughter.
- Died of heart attack on the set of _"The Royal Family" (1991)_ (qv).
- Due to Foxx's financial woes (the IRS seized and auctioned off his assets in 1989), his widow couldn't pay for his funeral, so Eddie Murphy footed the bill, giving Foxx a lavish, star-studded send-off.
- On _"Sanford and Son" (1972)_ (qv) one of the main characteristics of his character Fred Sanford was the he had a weak heart and that he always knew that the day for "The Big One" would eventually come. It was a trademark of the show that he would fake a heart attack in the face of some shocking news. In one of the bitterest ironies when Redd Foxx finally did experience the "The Big One," it was a heart attack and those around him thought he was just joking around and didn't seek immediate help.
- His stage name came from his childhood nickname "Red" which referred to his reddish hair and skin. He took the name "Foxx" as a tribute to Chicago Cubs player 'Jimmie Foxx' (qv) and as a reference to the red fox.
Related sites for this celeb