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Bryan Foy

Bryan Foy

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Also Known As: Died: April 20, 1977
Born: December 8, 1894 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA Profession: producer, gag writer, vaudevillian, director, screenwriter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Comic and actor Redd Foxx enjoyed considerable underground success with a series of X-rated comedy records, which would lead to mainstream stardom as the cantankerous Fred Sanford on "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77). Born John Elroy Sanford on December 9, 1922 in St. Louis, Missouri, he and his brother, Fred Sanford, Jr., were raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois by their mother and grandmother after the departure of their father, Fred Sanford, Sr., when Foxx was four years old. He showed an aptitude for telling jokes before the age of 10, and began performing while still a student at DuSable High School, first as a member of a singing group, and later as a solo vocalist, recording five songs for the Savoy label. Foxx relocated to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he supported himself as a dishwasher; there, he befriended Malcolm Little, later known as civil rights activist Malcolm X, who used the name "Detroit Red." Foxx would adopt the moniker "Chicago Red," initially to differentiate himself from his friend, but he later added a second "D" to "Red" and adopted the surname "Foxx," which he took from baseball great Jimmie Foxx, when he began working the city's nightclub...

Comic and actor Redd Foxx enjoyed considerable underground success with a series of X-rated comedy records, which would lead to mainstream stardom as the cantankerous Fred Sanford on "Sanford and Son" (NBC, 1972-77). Born John Elroy Sanford on December 9, 1922 in St. Louis, Missouri, he and his brother, Fred Sanford, Jr., were raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois by their mother and grandmother after the departure of their father, Fred Sanford, Sr., when Foxx was four years old. He showed an aptitude for telling jokes before the age of 10, and began performing while still a student at DuSable High School, first as a member of a singing group, and later as a solo vocalist, recording five songs for the Savoy label. Foxx relocated to the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he supported himself as a dishwasher; there, he befriended Malcolm Little, later known as civil rights activist Malcolm X, who used the name "Detroit Red." Foxx would adopt the moniker "Chicago Red," initially to differentiate himself from his friend, but he later added a second "D" to "Red" and adopted the surname "Foxx," which he took from baseball great Jimmie Foxx, when he began working the city's nightclub circuit. He soon made a name for himself on the East Coast for his bawdy comedy routines, which he occasionally performed with another comic, Slappy White; jazz singer Dinah Washington advised him to head to Los Angeles, where he met record producer and label owner Dootsie Williams of Dooto Records. Foxx was offered $25 to record his first comedy album, Laff of the Party, in 1956, which was followed by more than a dozen LPs, all of which hinged on jokes about sex, race and other adult topics, all delivered in Foxx's signature raspy tones. Though popular, they were not financially profitable for the comic, and he left Dooto for MF Records in 1965, and later, King Records and the Reprise imprint Loma Records. The material grew bolder and more explicit, as did Foxx's fame. By the mid 1960s, Foxx was playing dates in Las Vegas and appearing on network variety and talk series like "The Joey Bishop Show" (ABC, 1967-69). He made his first credited appearance in a feature film in Ossie Davis' "Cotton Comes to Harlem" (1970), playing a junkman who discovers a fortune stashed in a bale of cotton. The success of the film led to his first starring role in a network series, playing another junkman, Fred Sanford - named after his brother - in the Norman Lear/Bud Yorkin-produced "Sanford and Son," which was adapted from the British comedy "Steptoe and Son" (BBC, 1962-1965, 1970-74). Though the humor was tamped down for mainstream audiences, Foxx's turn as Sanford preserved the earthy tone of his comedy albums, and he drew upon many of his peers from the comedy circuit, including Slappy White, Don Bexley, Leroy Daniels and Ernest "Skillet" Mayhand and LaWanda Page, who often stole the show as Sanford's sister, Esther, to fill out the supporting cast. The series was a sizable hit for NBC, but Foxx's relationship with the producers and network was tumultuous: he was written out of the final six episodes of the third season after walking off the set due to alleged health issues, though a salary dispute was the real cause of the blowup. NBC countered Foxx by suing him for $10 million, prompting his return to the series, and he would remain on "Sanford" until the sixth season, when he joined ABC for his own self-titled variety series in 1977. His departure led to the cancellation of "Sanford," which was soon followed by the demise of his variety program, and while Foxx remained a popular guest on variety programs and a headliner in Las Vegas, his career never regained the heights he had reached with "Sanford." He attempted to revive his most famous character in 1980 with "Sanford" (NBC, 1980-81), but the comedy couldn't match the success of its predecessor. His personal life also went into decline during this period, due largely to a penchant for exorbitant spending, which led to his filing for bankruptcy in 1983, and tax liens by the IRS which at one point, allegedly resulted in the seizure of nearly all his personal belongings. But he remained an influence over a generation of comedians that followed in his wake, including Eddie Murphy, who tapped him and fellow Dooto labelmate Richard Pryor - who had co-written episodes of "Sanford" - to appear with him in "Harlem Nights" (1989), which also marked Murphy's directorial debut. Though a box office failure, it sparked renewed interest in Foxx's career, and he returned to television in 1991 with "The Royal Family" (CBS, 1991-92), a sitcom produced by Murphy with Foxx and Della Reese as a retired couple who find themselves hosting their daughter and her three children. Ratings were positive for the first three episodes of the series, but on October 11, 1991, Foxx suffered a massive heart attack during rehearsal and died that same evening. The series would continue briefly without him, but as the tributes from comics and entertainers who knew and were influenced by him all noted, Foxx was irreplaceable.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Doll Face (1945) Fill-In Director
2.
  The Gorilla (1930) Director
3.
  Die K√∂nigsloge (1929) Director
4.
5.
  Lights of New York (1928) Director
6.
  The Home Towners (1928) Director
7.
  Rembrandt (1925)
9.
10.

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1918:
comedy short film director
1929:
feature film director "Lights of New York" (first 100 percent all-talking picture)
1953:
directed landmark 3-D "House of Wax"

Family close complete family listing

brother:
Eddie Foy.

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