Johnna's Articles

A Special Daily Resource Shared by Kerry Ruff

Friday, February 19th, 2021




John Elroy Sanford was born on December 1922 in St. Louis Missouri. John Elroy Sanford was better known as his stage name, Redd Foxx. He was raised on Chicago’s South Side and was raised by his mother, Mary Hughes and grandmother after his father, Fred left. In the 1940s, he would meet Malcolm Little, later known as Malcolm X and Malcolm referred to him as Chicago Red, the funniest dishwasher on this earth. Malcolm gave him the nickname because of his reddish hair and light complexion. During World War II, Foxx dodged the draft by eating a half a bar of soap before his physical because the trick resulted in heart palpitations. Redd had a raunchy nightclub act that proved to be a great success. He performed as a comedian and actor in black theaters and nightclubs that was often referred to as the Chitlin Circuit. After singer Dinah Washington heard one of his performance, she insisted Foxx come to Los Angeles. Foxx was one of the first black comics to perform in front of white audiences on the Las Vegas Strip. He signed to a long term contract and received $25 for his first comedy album and in the years to follow would produce over 50 more albums. After starring in Ossie Davis’ Cotton Comes to Harlem, Redd Foxx reached widespread fame with his television sitcom Sanford and Son, which is still a personal classic. Foxx’s older brother, Fred Jr. helped him name the character he played, Fred G. Sanford on the show. The sitcom was notable for its racial humor and overt prejudices that helped redefine the genre of black situation comedy. The show premiered on NBC and ran for 5 years (1972-1977) and it was such a big hit that NBC even ran the show twice a week. The running gags on the show was calling his son on the show, a “big dummy” and always faking a heart attack by putting his hand on his chest and saying, while looking up at the sky, “it’s a big one, I’m coming to join you honey (Elizabeth, his late wife). On the show, Foxx portrayed someone who was in their 60s but at the time, Redd was only in his 50s. Redd Foxx won a Golden Globe Award and received three additional nominations for a Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Award for his role. In 1989, Foxx was a part of the film, Harlem Nights that also starred other comedian legends, Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor. Redd Foxx is credited for influencing other great comedians from Richard Pryor to Chris Rock to Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx. Today we honor the man who can still make people laugh, all of these years later. Redd Foxx paved the way for both miniorities and comedians alike by joking about everything from sex to color barriers and bringing those taboo issues to the open. Thank you. Happy Black History.


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