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Redd Foxx's Death

Redd Foxx

The life and death of Redd Foxx:

Here's a guy who really had two careers. He had some very raunchy comedy records featuring humor from his nightclub act. And he starred in a 1970's TV sitcom, "Sanford and Son."

Actually, Sanford was his name at birth. John Elroy Sanford was born in St. Louis, Missouri and was raised on the south side of Chicago. His father was named Fred Sanford – the same name as Redd's famous character. Fred Sanford was an electrician and auto mechanic who left the family when John was only four years old. (Adding ironic frosting to the cake, Foxx had an older brother Fred G. Sanford, who Redd claimed provided the name for his character on the TV show.)

He made his show biz debut on the "Major Bowes Amateur Hour" radio show as part of a music group in 1939. And in the 1940s he had a friend named Malcolm Little, later famously known as Malcolm X.

Redd Foxx with Malcolm X

Redd was a draft dodger, avoiding service during World War II by eating half a bar soap before his physical. The heart palpitations that followed meant a 4-F draft status.

Sometimes playing on the same stage as Elvis Presley, Redd started to gain some popularity with his racy nightclub act in the 50's, 60's and 70's.

Redd Foxx

He became king of the party records which drew on the material from his standup routine, though his material was strictly for adult audiences

Redd Foxx album cover

However, he's best known for his role was Fred Sanford on "Sanford and Son", playing the role of a junk man living with his son Lamont.

He was a junk man on the show, but People magazine reported he once made four million dollars in one year and spent it on a lavish lifestyle, divorce settlement and tax liens.

One of the running gags on "Sanford and Son" was that Fred was having a heart attack, telling his late wife Elizabeth, "It's the big one and I'm coming to join you."

Redd Foxx holding his heart on Sanford and Son

That wasn't so funny on October 11, 1991. While taking a break from rehearsals on his TV show called "The Royal Family", Redd suffered a heart attack on the set. Cast mates though he was clowning around but it was all too real and Redd died a few hours later.

Redd Foxx dead in casket

He was survived by his fourth wife, Ka Ho Cho and his mother, who died about a year and a half later and was buried next to him.

Redd's interred in Las Vegas at the Palm Valley View Memorial Park.

Redd Foxx grave

In a tribute to Redd,

Jamie Foxx

Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx (birth name Eric Bishop) chose Foxx as his surname.

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