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Redd Foxx

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

Foxx was born in St. Louis, Missouri and raised on Chicago’s South Side. His mother was part Seminole, making Foxx one quarter Seminole. 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 a well-known associate of Malcolm Little (later known as Malcolm X). According to Malcolm’s autobiography, Foxx was a dishwasher in the speakeasy where Malcolm worked as a waiter. (While Little was known as “Detroit Red”, having grown up in Michigan, Foxx was dubbed “Chicago Red”, due to his reddish hair and complexion. His second stage name was taken from baseball star Jimmie Foxx.)

Foxx gained notoriety with his nightclub act (considered by many to be raunchy). His stand-up performances were later released as “party” albums and became very popular. Foxx paved the way for later black comedians such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.

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