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Redd Foxx was born on this date in 1922. He was a Black comedian and actor.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, John Elroy Sanford (his birth name) was the son of Fred and Mary, an electrician and minister, respectively. His father deserted the family when he was four, and his grandmother and mother in Chicago raised him. Foxx quit high school after one year to play in a washtub band with two friends, Lamont Ousley and Steve Trimel; they eventually ran away to New York in 1939.
When World War II broke out, and their band broke up, Foxx was rejected by the military. He then played in a tramp band act at the Apollo Theater with Jimmie Lunceford. About this time, he adopted his professional name “Red” because of his red hair and light complexion, adding an extra “d” and taking the name “Foxx” with the label “foxy” (and the baseball player Jimmie Foxx) in mind. He began landing nightclub jobs, where he developed a classic stand-up routine. From 1947 to 1951, he teamed up with comedian Slappy White, then worked on the West Coast as a solo act. In 1956, he recorded the first of what would become more than 50 “party records”-comedy albums specializing in raunchy humor.
Although he had never done any straight acting, Foxx accepted the small role of Uncle Bud in the 1969 film "Cotton Comes to Harlem." NBC developed Sanford and Son, casting Foxx in the lead role from 1972 to 1977. Foxx received considerable acclaim for this television series, but a spin-off role as Fred Sanford in 1980 was not as successful. In 1983, he filed for bankruptcy, and two years later, the Internal Revenue Service, claiming he owed them 3 million dollars, seized many of his possessions, including his Las Vegas home.
While working on another television series for CBS, "The Royal Family," Redd Foxx died on the set of a heart attack on October 11, 1991.
The World Book Encyclopedia.
Copyright 1996, World Book, Inc.