Leila Kolar

Written by Leila Kolar

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Cheatsheet.com

Redd Foxx was an enigmatic figure in the world of comedy and entertainment. Born John Elroy Sanford, he rose to fame as one of the most influential African-American comedians of his time. With his unique style, quick wit, and ability to push boundaries, Foxx became a beloved icon in the comedy scene.

In this article, we delve into the fascinating life and career of Redd Foxx, uncovering 16 enigmatic facts about the man behind the laughter. From his humble beginnings to his wild antics on and off stage, Foxx’s story is a testament to his enduring legacy in the entertainment industry.

So, get ready to take a trip down memory lane as we explore the intriguing world of Redd Foxx and his impact on comedy and popular culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Redd Foxx, also known as John Elroy Sanford, was a pioneering African American comedian who gained fame through his iconic role in “Sanford and Son” and his boundary-pushing stand-up comedy.
  • Redd Foxx’s off-color humor, successful TV series, and influential impact on comedy paved the way for future generations of African American comedians, leaving a lasting legacy in the entertainment industry.
Table of Contents

Redd Foxx began his career in comedy clubs.

Before becoming a household name, Redd Foxx honed his comedic skills in the vibrant comedy club scene of the 1940s and 1950s.

Redd Foxx’s real name was John Elroy Sanford.

Contrary to his famous stage name, Redd Foxx was born as John Elroy Sanford on December 9, 1922, in St. Louis, Missouri.

He gained widespread popularity with his role as Fred Sanford on the TV show “Sanford and Son.”

“Sanford and Son” aired from 1972 to 1977 and showcased Redd Foxx’s unique comedic talents, earning him a devoted fanbase.

Redd Foxx had a successful stand-up comedy career.

Prior to his television success, Redd Foxx was a renowned stand-up comedian, known for his wit, sharp delivery, and raunchy humor.

He was known for his signature catchphrase “You big dummy!”

In his role as Fred Sanford, Redd Foxx popularized the catchphrase “You big dummy!” which became synonymous with his character.

Redd Foxx was known for his off-color humor.

Redd Foxx’s comedy often pushed boundaries with its risqué and adult-oriented content, appealing to a diverse audience.

He released several albums of his stand-up routines.

Redd Foxx recorded and released numerous comedy albums, showcasing his comedic prowess and further expanding his fanbase.

Redd Foxx had a brief boxing career.

Prior to his success in show business, Redd Foxx briefly pursued a career in boxing under the name “Leroy Sanford.”

He made history by becoming the first African American to have a successful TV series.

“Sanford and Son” made television history by being the first show centered around an African American character to achieve widespread success.

Redd Foxx was an influential figure in the comedy world.

His unique style and groundbreaking success paved the way for future generations of African American comedians.

He had a strained relationship with the producers of “Sanford and Son.”

Despite the show’s success, Redd Foxx experienced conflicts with the producers, leading to temporary departures from the series.

Redd Foxx had a successful film career.

He appeared in several films, including “Harlem Nights” and “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” showcasing his versatility as an entertainer.

He had a love for gambling and often lost large sums of money.

Redd Foxx had a well-known gambling habit and was notorious for losing significant amounts of money in casinos.

Redd Foxx’s comedy albums were banned in some households.

Due to their explicit content, some families banned Redd Foxx’s comedy albums from being played in their homes.

He had a successful Vegas residency.

Redd Foxx performed regularly in Las Vegas, drawing large crowds and cementing his status as a comedic icon.

Redd Foxx’s legacy continues to inspire comedians today.

His impact on comedy and his trailblazing contributions to the entertainment industry are still felt and recognized by artists today.


In conclusion, Redd Foxx was truly an enigmatic figure in the world of entertainment. From his groundbreaking role in “Sanford and Son” to his remarkable career in stand-up comedy, Foxx left an indelible mark on the industry. His quick wit, unique comedic style, and incredible ability to connect with audiences made him a beloved and iconic figure. Behind the scenes, however, Foxx faced personal and financial challenges that added to his mystique. Despite the ups and downs, Foxx’s talent and charisma continue to captivate audiences, and his legacy as a trailblazing comedian lives on.


1. What was Redd Foxx’s real name?

Redd Foxx’s real name was John Elroy Sanford. He later adopted the stage name Redd Foxx as a tribute to his childhood nickname.

2. What show was Redd Foxx most famous for?

Redd Foxx was most famous for his role as Fred G. Sanford in the hit television sitcom “Sanford and Son.” The show aired from 1972 to 1977 and showcased Foxx’s comedic brilliance.

3. Did Redd Foxx have a successful career in stand-up comedy?

Yes, Redd Foxx had a highly successful career in stand-up comedy. His raunchy and unapologetic style set him apart from other comedians of his time and earned him a loyal fan base.

4. Was Redd Foxx known for his controversial humor?

Yes, Redd Foxx was known for his controversial humor, often pushing boundaries with his jokes. While some found his comedy refreshing and honest, others criticized him for his use of explicit language and content.

5. What challenges did Redd Foxx face in his personal life?

Redd Foxx faced personal challenges, including financial struggles and legal issues. He experienced difficulties in managing his finances, which led to tax problems and debt.

6. Did Redd Foxx’s legacy continue after his passing?

Yes, Redd Foxx’s legacy continues to be celebrated even after his passing. His iconic status as a pioneering comedian and actor remains, and his impact on the entertainment industry is still recognized today.

Redd Foxx's enigmatic life story captivates, leaving you yearning for more tales from comedy's golden era. Why not explore the behind-the-scenes antics of his iconic film "Harlem Nights"? Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor joined forces with Foxx, creating a comedic tour de force that's sure to entertain. Uncover the movie's untold stories, just as you've delved into Foxx's fascinating world.

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