Richard Pryor’s first marriage, to fellow Peorian Patricia Price, left few traces in the public record—and the traces it left are somewhat deceptive.
Five years after their 1961 marriage, and three years after he had left Peoria to make a name for himself as a comedian, Richard filed for divorce from Patricia. In the complaint, he alleged that Patricia was “not a fit person to have the care, custody…and control of the education” of their child Richard, Jr.; that Patricia had committed adultery during their marriage; and that Richard had left Patricia because of this adultery.
These allegations appear to have been part of an attempt, on Richard or his lawyer’s part, to jockey for position in the divorce proceedings. Having left behind his family to pursue his career on the road, Richard was not the type to take on sole custody of a child of his, and according to Richard Jr. (who heard his mother’s account of the marriage), it was Richard, not Patricia, who strayed from their marital vows.
The divorce decree, issued by the judge eleven months later, would largely take Patricia’s side in the dispute over their marital history.