Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Redd Foxx Biography - Cool Black Review

Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx StoryBlack and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story by Michael Starr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book really details Redd Foxx’s life as well as all of his trials and tribulations. Born Jon Elroy Sanford (As cited in this book, NO “h” in Jon despite what the Internet says) Redd Foxx was a definite pioneer in the entertainment industry and knocked down several doors for black entertainers. After reading this book I truly believe there would be no Bill Cosby, no Richard Pryor, no Eddie Murphy without him. Really.

The book depicts all of Redd’s many battles with each producer, network honcho and studio. Believe me some of those battles were really ludicrous and funnier than anything Redd said in his comedy routines.

What may have seemed like incessant and nonsensical salary negotiation on his part for various projects was just Redd making them pay him what he was worth. He wouldn’t kowtow to anyone and in retrospect that was commendable. He also insisted on combating stereotypes in all of his TV shows and yes there were more than Sanford & Son. I can only imagine back then reading some script that looked good to a white writer would be all wrong sometimes in a minute way. Redd understood that those type of images are forever and he was right as more than 30 years later Sanford & Son is still being broadcast.

The book gives a full depiction about how this “Las Vegas comedian” got his own network television show, Sanford & Son, and how much of a big hit it was—and it was!

What I didn’t know about was Redd’s drug use and his womanizing. Wow, Rick James ain’t got nothing on him. This book depicts Redd in all of his X-Rated glory. No censors here. You’ll read that when Redd Foxx cursed you out, you’ve been cursed out by the best!

What I also didn’t know about was Redd’s prolific career in Las Vegas. I thought he was only there sporadically, but he really was a mainstay. In fact out all of his many jobs, Vegas seemed to be his only regular gig.

The book also details that Redd may have been the worst business man alive. He had many businesses and all of them were poorly managed. As fast as he was bringing the cash, and he was, in one door it was going out of five others. That was one of the reasons for his well publicized battles with the Internal Revenue Service.

Another detriment to Redd’s wealth building was that he was also generous to a fault. The book depicts the many times he would give until he had no more. He seemed to fall for every sob story and everyone knew it. He also never forgot his friends and people you know as “Aunt Esther” and Fred’s good friend “Melvin” on Sanford & Son were old friends of Redd’s. (As a side note “Fred G. Sanford” was actually the name of Redd’s real life older brother)

In the end this is a really great book for all Redd Foxx fans. It let you see the man for what he was flaws and all, but you can also see that he was indeed a comedic genius and pioneer in entertainment for all African American performers.

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