Born Caryn Elaine Johnson, much of her fame has come from her influential movie roles, in such films as The Color Purple and Ghost, for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. At one point in the 90s she was rumored to be the highest paid actress in Hollywood. But her film success shouldn’t detract from her brilliance as a stand-up comedian. She is one of the few entertainers to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.
Before the success of “Sanford and Son,” John Elroy Sanford was one of the most successful Black stand-up comedians of all time, with a string of highly successful (and explicit) comedy albums—more than 50 of them. He stepped into the homes of America through the comic antics of Fred Sanford (which was his older brother’s name), on his highly successful sitcom. Foxx had many running gags on the show, such as faking a heart attack. When he died of a heart attack in 1991 on the set of his sitcom “The Royal Family,” this is what Joshua Rich wrote in Entertainment Weekly: “It was an end so ironic that for a brief moment cast mates figured Foxx—whose 70s TV character often faked heart attacks—was kidding when he grabbed a chair and fell to the floor.”