Apollo Theater Honors Comics For the First Time on Walk Of Fame

by Michael J. Feeney /  / Updated 
2015 Apollo Theater Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: A general view of the atmosphere during the 2015 Apollo Theater Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony held at The Apollo Theater on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/WireImage)Brent N. Clarke / WireImage

They've paved the way for today's comedians, and now Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx and Jackie 'Moms' Mabley will forever be remembered on the Apollo Theater's Walk of Fame.

The trio of comedy pioneers became the first non-musical artists to be inducted into the Walk of Fame at the world famous theater, where they all performed. They joined a legendary group of performers, including Michael Jackson, James Brown and Ella Fitzgerald, who already have bronze plaques on the sidewalk in front of the theater.

The induction ceremony under the Apollo's 125th St. marquee on Thursday evening wasn't without a few jokes.

"They asked us when we came here what could represent our dad?" said Pryor's daughter, Rain, also a comedian. "And I said, 'Do you have any white women, hookers and cocaine?'"

The quip drew some laughs from the crowd.

She continued, "When he came out here it's when he started off, kind of, he was in his Bill Cosby before he drugged women phase."

2015 Apollo Theater Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: Richard Pryor, Jr. (L) and Rain Pryor speak about their father Richard Pryor during the 2015 Apollo Theater Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony held at The Apollo Theater on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/WireImage)Brent N. Clarke / WireImage

Pryor's son, Richard Jr., responded to groans from the crowd saying, "You know it's true." He also made light of his father's drug use and jail time for tax evasion.

Apollo Theater Executive Producer Mikki Shepard said the timing was right for comedians to be included and expects more non-musicians to be honored in the future.

"We started with music because when most people think about the Apollo, they think about music," Shepard said. "Our vision is much larger. It's dance, it's theater...but we always wanted to do comedy because that was also a very rich part of our legacy and history."

Shepard couldn't say if Cosby, who has been disgraced following allegations of sexual abuse, would ever be inducted.

"I think he's on the list," she said. "Bill performed here just like Dick Gregory performed here. There's just a whole bunch of people that performed here. It's a collection of people that really vote on who's going to be in."

Central State University recently took Cosby's name off their communications building, and Spelman College ended a professorship funded by the comedian. Shepard would not say if Cosby was out of the running for a possible future induction.

"Let me just say this, I think there's some people who come before him. That's what I'll say," she said.

Richard Pryor Jr. also declined to say if Cosby should be in the Walk of Fame alongside his father.

2015 Apollo Theater Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 01: A general view of the atmosphere during the 2015 Apollo Theater Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony held at The Apollo Theater on October 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/WireImage)Brent N. Clarke / WireImage

"Well, that's not up to me," he said after the ceremony.

"You know what, regardless of what is going on in Mr. Cosby's life, he still is a comedian. And he still brought things to the table because my father wouldn't be where he is without listening to Bill Cosby first," he said. "Whatever he went through is his business...Ain't nobody can take away what he brought to the comedic world."

No family for Mabley or Foxx attended the ceremony.

Richard Pryor Jr. said when visitors view the plaque he wants people to remember his father for being "real."

"He was human. He spoke his mind and he spoke truth," he said.

Rain Pryor, who said her dad was "ahead of his time," said the induction was fitting because her father enjoyed his time at the Apollo.

"He always talked about performing at the Apollo because he felt it was home," she said. "He felt this was a place he could be amongst his people."

Following the induction ceremony, the Apollo Theater kicked off a comedy series that will feature up-and-coming comedians.

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