December 9
Redd Foxx

*Redd Foxx was born on this date in 1922. He was an African-American comedian and actor.

From 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, Illinois then 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 completion, 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 standup routine. From 1947 to 1951, he teamed up with comedian Slappy White, then working the West Coast as a solo act. In 1956, he recorded the first of what would become more than fifty “party record”-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, which ran 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 NBC, 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.
ISBN 0-7166-0096-X