On June 9, 1980, Richard Pryor poured 151 proof rum on his shirt and set himself on fire with a cigarette lighter. In the documentary I Am Richard Pryor, Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor said it was a suicide attempt and that Richard warned her.
He warned me. He said to me, ‘I’ve decided what to do. I have to do this otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to get out. There’s no way out of this so you need to leave so you don’t get hurt too.’ I knew he was planning something, I didn’t know what. I called the house. Somebody answered and then the next thing I know they drop the phone and I heard someone screaming, and Richard at that time running through the house on fire.People.com
On September 5, 1980, Pryor made an emotional return to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, and he talked about the incident with Johnny. Enjoy this look back at Richard Pryor’s emotional return to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1980!