Redd Foxx Explained

Redd Foxx
Birth Date:December 9, 1922
Birth Place:St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Death Place:Los Angeles, California
Medium:stand-up, television, film
Genre:Word play, Observational comedy, Black comedy
Subject:human sexuality, race relations, African-American culture, everyday life
Influenced:Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Andrew Dice Clay, Bernie Mac, Chris Rock, Jeff Duran, Jamie Foxx, Cardell Willis
Notable Work:Fred Sanford in Sanford and Son and Sanford
Goldenglobeawards:Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy
1973 Sanford and Son

Redd Foxx (December 9, 1922October 11, 1991), born John Elroy Sanford, was an American comedian best known for his starring role on the television sitcom Sanford and Son.


Early life and career

Foxx was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised on Chicago's South Side. His mother was half Seminole.[1] His father, an electrician, left the family when Foxx was four. He was raised by his mother, his minister, and his grandmother. He briefly attended DuSable High School with future Chicago mayor Harold Washington, but never graduated. Moving to New York in the early 1940s, he was an associate of Malcolm Little later known as Malcolm X. In Malcolm's autobiography, Foxx is referred to as "Chicago Red, the funniest dishwasher on this earth." Foxx earned the nickname due to his reddish hair and complexion. His second stage name was taken from baseball star Jimmie Foxx.

In May of 1967, Redd Foxx was the only artist to be invited to Elvis Presley's wedding at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas.

Nightclub act

Foxx gained notoriety with his nightclub act (considered by the standards of the time to be raunchy). His stand-up performances were later released as "party" albums and became very popular.

Sanford and Son

The character of Fred Sanford was named after Foxx's own brother, Fred, who had died. Foxx was in his early 50s when he played the 65-year-old Sanford.

He was also one of the first black comics to play to white audiences on the Las Vegas Strip. Foxx used his starring role on Sanford and Son to help get jobs for his friends such as LaWanda Page, Slappy White, Gregory Sierra, and Noriyuki "Pat" Morita. Foxx also battled with producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin for higher paychecks and creative control of the show. Writer Alan Rafkin touched on some of Foxx's clashes with Lear and Yorkin in the book Cue the Bunny on the Rainbow. Foxx does not appear in six episodes at the end of the third season, and three at the beginning of the fourth, because of problems with producers. "Fred Sanford's" best friend "Grady", played by Whitman Mayo, took his place.

Foxx appeared ringside at the famous boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner (the match that inspired actor Sylvester Stallone to write the movie Rocky) near Cleveland, Ohio in 1975. Foxx also served as co-commentator.

Post-Sanford and Son career and personal woes

In 1977, Foxx left Sanford and Son, after six highly successful seasons, (and the show was cancelled solely due to his departure) to star in a short-lived variety show, but by 1980 he was back playing Fred Sanford in a brief revival/spin-off, Sanford.


Foxx appeared to be making a comeback with the 1991 series The Royal Family, in which he co-starred with his long-time friend Della Reese. During a break from rehearsals on October 11, 1991, a fatal heart attack killed him on the set. Reportedly, Reese and the rest of the cast and crew thought he was doing his classic "I'm coming, Elizabeth" fake heart attack routine he made famous on Sanford and Son, even going as far as collapsing to the floor, although that was not part of the usual schtick.[2] However, this heart attack was real, and Foxx never regained consciousness. He was 68 years old.

Foxx was posthumously given a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame on May 17, 1992.[3]

A few years after Foxx's death several buyers of his home claimed his property was 'haunted' by him.[4] [5] Some people have even gone as far as claiming Foxx faked his death because he still owed the IRS money. Martin Lawrence poked fun at these claims on the pilot of his sitcom. He said, "The man faked it. If you owed 16 billion dollars in taxes, what would you do?".


Comedian Chris Rock cites Redd Foxx as an influence. An episode of his show Everybody Hates Chris shows young Chris Rock overhearing his parents' Redd Foxx albums and getting started doing stand-up through retelling the jokes at school. Actor Jamie Foxx choose Foxx as part of his stage name in tribute to Redd Foxx.


TV work

How The West Was Fun (2003-2007)

External links

Notes and References

  1. Redd Foxx (I) - Biography
  2. Ingram, Billy. TVparty!: Television's Untold Tales, Bonus Books, 2002, p. 262. ISBN 1566251842
  3. Web site: Redd Foxx. 2007-09-23. St. Louis Walk of Fame. St. Louis Walk of Fame. Born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis, he left home at age 16 to join a New York street band.... Date of Birth: 12-9-1922; Field/Achievement: Acting/Entertainment; Location of Star: 6331 Delmar; Date of Induction: 5-17-1992.
  4. Oberding, Janice. Haunted Nevada,, p. 94. ISBN 1581126743.
  5. Hayes, Justin Cord. 101 Things You Didn't Know About Casino Gambling, Adams Media, 2006, pp. 250-251. ISBN 1593373678