Sunday, December 9, 2007

85th Birthday Anniv. For Redd Foxx

Sunday, December 9th is the 85th birth anniversary of Redd Foxx. Born John Elroy Sanford, Foxx made a name for himself on the chitlin' circuit during the 1950s and 1960s. His style of comedy paved the way for comics such as Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, Andrew "Dice" Clay, Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes, and Dave Chappelle.

Although he made several movie and TV appearances ("Norman, Is That You?", "Harlem Nights", "The Royal Family", etc.), he is easily best known for his starring role in the hit sitcom "Sanford & Son" (1972-1977). As cantankerous junkman Fred Sanford (named after Foxx' real-life brother), he created one of the most memorable sitcom characters in TV history. It's a testament to his skill that he was able to take a character who was basically an ornery son of a bitch and make you care about him. I mean, some of the things that he would say probably wouldn't even make it on network TV in today's PC world. As a matter of fact, many of the episodes are edited for content when they air in syndication today.

One of the things that I liked about Redd Foxx is that he didn't forget his friends from the old days once he attained TV success. Over the course of the run of "Sanford & Son", he used his clout to get roles for pals like LaWanda Page (Aunt Esther), Slappy White (Melvin), and Pat Morita (Ah Chew). He continued this practice on his ABC variety show "The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour" (1977-1978). One of the features of the program was "Redd's Corner", a showcase for comics that he had worked with on the chitlin' circuit.

It's ironic that Redd Foxx died the way he did. During rehearsals for his comeback sitcom "The Royal Family" in 1991, Foxx collapsed on the set of heart attack and died. Apparently, the cast and crew thought that he was doing his "fake heart attack" routine that he made famous on "Sanford and Son". He was 68.

Below is a clip from a 1974 episode of "Sanford & Son" titled "Julio and Sister and Nephew":


pjazzypar said...

Fred Sandford and Aunt Esther...need I say more. That was some funny stuff. He was always able to play off of women exceptionally well, for instance, him and Della Reese in Harlem Nights. The banter between him and her was funny, yet very realistic. I miss his humor.

Damien Riley said...

I always thought he had so much soul! Cool and funny guy!

SandyCarlson said...

I loved Sanford and Son. He was always a laugh! Thanks for sharing this post.

(It's great TVLand keeps the flame of old humor burning!)

Lori said...

Ole Fred Sanford (Red Foxx) was an original, wasn't he? Those old shows and jokes are still just as funny today as they were back then. Upon my recent discovery that Paul Mooney, wrote for the show (Sanford & Son) I realize why the material was so on time. I LOVE the bite in Mooney's humor. Mooney was also responsible for some of the better stuff on "In Living Color."

Interestingly enough, I don't remember Foxx's variety show. I do recall Royal Family though.

Candy Minx said...

What a terrific write up Malcolm, this was wonderful!

We were talking about him the other night and how our parents had his record. Remember records of comedians?

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: Good call on Redd's ability to play off of actresses well. I liked in "Harlem Nights" when Della called his character a blind motherfucker and he muttered something like "old bitch".

Damien: There'll never be another like him.

Sandy: I am glad you enjoyed the post. Although TV Land has slipped a bit in regards to classic TV, they may be redeeming themselves. I just found out that they are bringing "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Hogan's Heroes" back to the schedule. Since that probably means that these two shows will be replacing current ones, I hope that "Sanford and Son" remains on the schedule.

Lori: "Sanford and Son" had some top drawer talent in the scriptwriting department. In addition to Paul Mooney, Richard Pryor and Garry Shandling also wrote scripts for the show.

I only recall the promos for "The Redd Foxx Show" because it came on at 10 pm... past my bedtime.

Candy: Thank you for the positive feedback! I don't know if any of my older relatives had any of Redd's or any other comics' albums. Maybe they were keeping them hidden until the kiddies went to bed.

X. Dell said...

A poem by John Sanford:

I kissed her lips.
And then,
Just for meanness' sake,
She twisted her legs,
And broke my glasses.

Redd wasn't really all that blue, especially by today's standards. I was thinking, though, of doing a post on LaWanda Page. Now she was blue. Far bluer than Redd, but just as funny.

Malcolm said...

X. Dell: That poem was awesome! I would love to hear some LaWanda Page stand up material. I hope you wind up doing a post about her.

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