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Richard Pryor, whose blunt, blue and brilliant comedic confrontations confidently tackled what many stand-up comic's before him deemed too shocking—and thus off-limits—to broach, died this morning. He was 65 .Pryor suffered a heart attack at his home in San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles early Saturday morning. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The comedian's tremendous body of work, a political movement in itself, was steeped in race, class, social commentary, and encompassed the stage, screen, records and television. He won five Grammys, an Emmy and was an Academy Award nominee for his role in "Lady Sings the Blues" in 1972.
At one point the highest paid black performer in the entertainment industry, the highly-lauded but misfortune-dogged comedian inadvertently became a de facto role model—a lone wolf figure whom many an up-and-coming comic from Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock to Robin Williams and Richard Belzer—have paid due homage. Pryor alone kicked stand-up humor into a brand new realm.
"Richard Pryor is the groundbreaker," comedian Keenan Ivory Wayans once said. "For most of us he was the inspiration to get into comedy and also showed us that you can be black and have a black voice and be successful."