Richard Pryor: Lessons From His Caregiver
From legendary stand-up comedy shows to classic movie roles, comedian Richard Pryor is seen by many as a comic genius and serves as an inspiration for many comics today. In 2004, Pryor was voted No. 1 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-ups of All Time. In a 2005 British poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, Pryor was voted the 10th greatest comedy act ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. In his later years starting in the early 1990s, Richard Pryor used a power operated vehicle/scooter due to multiple sclerosis (also known as MS, which he said stood for “More Sh@#”).
Multiple sclerosis is the most common autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system. It disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems.
During the last 11 years of Richard Pryor’s life, his wife, Jennifer Lee-Pryor, cared for him on a full-time basis. They were together for five years before getting married in 1981, which like many of Pryor’s other marriages, only lasted a year. But unlike any other marriage, Pryor remarried Jennifer in 2001 and remained together until his death in 2005 (she was the comic’s fourth and seventh wife). The cause of Pryor’s death was multiple sclerosis, which he had been battling for nearly 20 years.
In those last years, Jennifer shares in her own words what it was like being a caregiver for the comedic legend: