On October 11, 1991, the great American 20th century comedian Redd Foxx passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 68. Redd Foxx was born John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis, Missouri. Called Redd because of his red hair and light complexion, he added the name Foxx after baseball player Jimmy Foxx. Redd Foxx dropped out of high school to play in a washtub band with friends. In 1939 they went to New York, calling themselves the Bon-Bons, but the band dissolved during World War II (1939-1945).
Rejected by the army, Foxx began to perform standup comedy in nightclubs. Teamed with Slappy White, he worked the African American nightclub circuit from 1947 to 1951. After the two broke up, Foxx moved to the West Coast to work. In 1956 he recorded the first of his 50 “party albums,” comedy records featuring adult humor. The albums eventually sold over 20 million copies.
Although he had never acted, Foxx accepted a small role as a junkman in the popular movie Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970). NBC executives liked the character so much that they developed a situation comedy based on the character. Sanford and Son first appeared on television in 1972, with Foxx in the starring role of Fred Sanford, a gruff junk dealer. The show lasted until the 1977 television season and with it, Foxx attained mainstream popularity. He appeared in several other films, including Norman ... Is That You? in 1976 and Harlem Nights in 1989. Foxx suffered a fatal heart attack while on the set of a new situation comedy, The Royal Family, in 1991.