Comedy greats Richard Pryor, Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx each trekked on the hallowed grounds of the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Their accomplishments have been acknowledged with a very special honor and induction ceremony into the Apollo Walk of Fame. This Walk of Fame Ceremony marked the first time the theater inducted non-musical artists into the Apollo Walk of Fame. Still, all three of the inductees had a longstanding relationship with the theater.
“The entertainers’ path to fame included our beloved Apollo,” shares Jonelle Procope, Apollo president and CEO. “Their accomplishments have forever altered the American cultural landscape and their influence continues to inspire and inform the young artists who grace the Apollo stage today. We’re honoring three comedians Richard Pryor, Jackie Moms Mabley and Redd Foxx, who have been integral to the Apollo’s impact on the development of American popular culture.”
Moms Mabley was probably the most beloved comic to ever play the Apollo. Redd Foxx was also a staple at the theater and, famously, even taught Aretha Franklin how to do a proper curtsy on the Apollo stage; she has talked about this herself. Richard Pryor would play the Theater several times in his career and develop his act at the Theater to sold-out audiences.
“Our father started comedy in the early ’60s,” begins Richard Pryor Jr. standing alongside his sister Rain Pryor. “My mother was the only wife he had prior to becoming a comic. He left Peoria [Illinois] to come to New York and make it big.” Richard Jr.’s mother is Patrice Price.
“My mom encouraged him to find his voice,” adds Rain Pryor, the daughter of Shelley R. Bonus and the late comedian. “He hung out with Huey P. Newton … it was great to see my dad sitting around the living room with Redd Foxx, having cigars. He was also a musician. He played the drums, piano … he was a writer, producer, director. He owned his own production company at a time when Black men weren’t doing that. He was ahead of his time. He always talked about performing at the Apollo because he felt it was home. To [stand] here as his children and the carriers of his legacy and to see his friends get honored is a triumph for us.”
Check out the ceremony video on the next page.