Comedy Legend Richard Pryor called Peoria home for decades before he was known nationally. Born in Peoria in 1940, Pryor often used his upbringing in his edgy comedy routines. A new special program from ABC chronicles "The Last Days of Richard Pryor."
The special airs Thursday night at 8:00 on Heart of Illinois ABC.
Former local TV Anchor and historian Garry Moore wrote a play about the life of Pryor that was performed at the Apollo Theater a number of years ago. Moore said when people around the country think of Peoria, they think of Richard Pryor.
Moore said Pryor's comedy became edgy and pushed boundaries after the civil rights movement and MLK's assassination in the early 60's. Growing up in a brothel with a mother who was a prostitute and a father who was a pimp, Pryor channeled those experiences into comedy, said Moore.
Local artist Preston Jackson said he remembers playing shows with his band at "Collins Corner" in Peoria when Pryor would sneak his way onto the stage during an intermission, crack a few jokes, and sneak off before he could get booted. Jackson was commissioned to build a statue of Pryor that now stands at the corner of Washington and State downtown Peoria.