25 Surprising Facts About Boy Meets World

ABC
ABC

On September 24, 1993, television audiences were introduced to Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and his lovable group of friends, family members, and one very important teacher when Boy Meets World made its premiere on ABC. Over the course of seven seasons, fans followed the teen shenanigans of Cory and his buddies, including best friend Shawn (Rider Strong) and girlfriend Topanga (Danielle Fishel). In 2012, old and new fans alike got to revisit Cory and Topanga—now married—as they raised their own teenage daughter in a spinoff, Girl Meets World.

On the 25th anniversary of the original series's premiere, here are 25 things you might not have known about Boy Meets World.

1. CORY WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO HAVE TWO BEST FRIENDS.

In the first three episodes of the show, Cory has a second friend, in addition to Shawn. The show was originally going to feature Cory’s friends as a group, rather than a duo, so the showrunners kept rotating in new friends. But the characters didn’t stick. The cast even started calling the cafeteria chair that those characters sat in the “death chair” because the actors would never return. Finally, in the season one episode "Cory’s Alternative Friends,” Topanga was introduced and the notion of another best friend was lost.

2. SHAWN HAD A SISTER, BUT SHE WAS ONLY EVER MENTIONED ONCE.

In the “Cory’s Alternative Friends” episode, Shawn telephones his sister Stacy. In later episodes, Shawn doesn’t have a sister. Why? It has to do with the aforementioned plan for Corey to have two best friends. While filming the episode, the actor who was going to play one of those friends was fired. Rider Strong, who played Shawn, was given all of his lines at the last minute. In the original script, Stacy wasn’t Shawn’s sister. So, she never shows up in the show again.

3. MR. TURNER DISAPPEARED.

ABC

What’s with all the disappearing Boy Meets World characters? Mr. Turner played a vital role in the high school years of the show. Shawn even lives with him for a time. But in the fourth season episode “Cult Fiction,” Mr. Turner gets into a life-threatening motorcycle accident. He never appears on the show again and is rarely mentioned. In the next season, during the graduation episode, Minkus (who has also been MIA since season one) mentions Mr. Turner, saying that they had just been on “the other side of the school.” Mysterious.

Strong claimed that the twentysomething Mr. Turner was written into the show because Friends was popular at the time. But he didn’t quite fit into the show. He did, however, seem to fit into Girl Meets World: He appeared in three episodes of the spinoff.

4. MEMBERS OF TOPANGA'S FAMILY ALSO DISAPPEARED.

Topanga’s family tree is also all over the place. Like Stacy, Topanga’s older sister, Nebula, is a one-episode wonder. She appears in the season one episode “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not,” but is never mentioned again. And Topanga is later referred to as an only child. Topanga’s parents were played by five different actors over the course of the show: Peter Tork, Michael McKean, and Mark Harelik played her father, and her mother was played by both Annette O’Toole and Marcia Cross.

5. STUART MINKUS'S NAME WAS CHANGED FOR A REASON.

The writers changed Lee Norris's character's name to “Stuart Minkus” after it was discovered that there was an actual Stuart Lempke (the character's original name) living in Philadelphia, which is where the show takes place.

6. DANIELLE FISHEL WASN'T THE FIRST TOPANGA.

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Topanga was originally played by a different actress who ultimately didn’t work out for the part. On Fishel’s first day, she made the character very upbeat and peppy—but after rehearsal, co-creator Michael Jacobs waited until everyone went home and had a meeting with her in which he told her that he wanted Topanga to be more of a slow, calm character, and they went through the script line by line. Fishel was terrified that she’d lost the part like the actress who played Topanga before her, so she spent all night practicing the part.

After the next day’s run-through, Fishel recalled that, "Michael started the notes session off with me again. My heart stopped beating regularly, and my palms got sweaty: 'Danielle, yesterday I gave you an enormous amount of notes. I did that because I believed you were capable of handling them,' he said in front of all the writers and producers and my fellow actors. Then he stood up. I panicked. Was he going to fire me, slam his script on the ground, and storm out of there? 'However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations,' he concluded. He started clapping, and all the writers stood up and clapped next to him. Michael wasn’t going to fire me. He believed in me. He gave me a freaking standing ovation."

7. ANOTHER CHARACTER THAT WAS REPLACED: MORGAN MATTHEWS.

In the first two seasons, Lily Nicksay played the youngest member of the Matthews family, Morgan. Then, a few episodes into season three, Lindsay Ridgeway took over the role of Morgan. It was never explained why Nicksay was replaced. In the third season, Corey says, “Morgan, long time no see.” She responds, “Yeah, that was the longest time out I’ve ever had!” Nicksay—who now goes by Lily Gibson—made a few reunion appearances with the cast and even appeared on an episode of Girl Meets World.

8. TOPANGA WAS NAMED AFTER TOPANGA CANYON.

It was taking a while to come up with Topanga’s name and it ended up becoming a last-minute decision. According to Fishel, “Michael Jacobs says he was driving down the highway when production called and said, ‘We need a name for this character!’ He happened to be driving past Topanga Canyon, so he said, ‘Topanga.’ He says that if they had called him two miles later, I would’ve been named Canoga, which is the next exit.”

9. THE YOUNG ACTORS WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER.

Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Just like the show, the set itself revolved around a classroom. During the show’s early years, Savage, Fishel, Strong, and Will Friedle (Eric) were all still in school. Fishel later explained, “When we started the show, we had little sectioned off areas for each one of us to try to focus and work with our own individual teachers, but it always ended up being more like a regular school classroom with all of us chiming in and learning little bits of what everyone else was learning.”

10. RIDER STRONG HATED SHAWN'S HAIRCUT.

Though Shawn’s haircut was beloved by the fans, Strong didn’t feel the same way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to change it. “I hated my hair. I came to the audition with that hairstyle, got the part, and the director Michael Jacobs never let me cut it from there on out,” Strong said. “A bunch of girls at a sleepover told me to wear my hair like that—parted down the center—and I was 12, so I listened. It was my version of Christian Slater. But my hair is wavy and they would straighten it on the show and it would take forever. I wanted to cut my hair so bad, but the only time I got to was when we found out the show was going to be canceled.”

11. STRONG STOLE SHAWN'S FAMOUS LEATHER JACKET.

When the show ended, Strong made off with a nice souvenir. “Disney wouldn't let us take anything, but I had a leather jacket that I had bought on my own, and I swapped it," he said. Unfortunately, someone later stole the jacket from his car in Brooklyn. Strong wasn’t the only rebel in the cast; Savage admitted to stealing a pair of shoes from the show as well.

12. SCENES BETWEEN ERIC AND SHAWN WERE LIMITED FOR A REASON.

Friedle and Strong remain close friends to this day. Their undeniable chemistry made for some hard-to-shoot scenes. In a 2013 reunion, Friedle admitted, “They never let Rider and I do scenes together because we would look at each other and start laughing, so I think over seven years, we had, like, five scenes together.”

13. THE CHARACTERS GO TO JOHN ADAMS HIGH SCHOOL, WHICH IS A POSSIBLE REFERENCE TO WILLIAM DANIELS.

Though it hasn’t been confirmed, many Boy Meets World fans believe that John Adams High School is a nod to Daniels’s career. He played John Adams in the musical and film version of 1776. Another reference to his career: Mr. Feeny calls The Graduate a “great film.” Daniels played Mr. Braddock in the movie.

14. DANIELS DID HAVE A FEENY-ESQUE VIBE ON SET.

He didn’t exactly mentor the kids, as fans might hope. The child actors were definitely intrigued by him, though. They originally thought he was British because he came across as very proper. “There wasn’t a whole lot of socializing off set, but we revered the character and the man,” Savage later said. “When he’d come on set, we’d talk, we’d listen, and we’d absorb, and then he would vanish, like some sort of magical person that just pops into your life. He was like a mystic. He always taught us things, and there was so much to absorb from him.”

15. THE "AND THEN THERE WAS SHAWN" EPISODE WAS A CAST FAVORITE.

Both Friedle and Strong have pointed to the season five episode as a favorite. The 1998 episode was inspired by '90s horror movies like Scream. The episode co-starred Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was dating Friedle in real life. Her character’s name, by the way, was Jennifer Love Fefferman. It’s no wonder the cast “could barely get through the scenes,” as Friedle put it. “We were laughing so hard.”

16. MANY FUTURE STARS APPEARED ON THE SHOW.

Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn’t the only star to make a guest appearance on Boy Meets World. Future Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott played school bully Griff Hawkins on the second season. Freaks and Geeks star Linda Cardellini spent a few episodes almost breaking up Cory and Topanga. In 1995, the same year that Clueless came out, Brittany Murphy played Trini for two episodes. A couple of future Buffy stars also appeared on the show: Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz.

Perhaps the most surprising Boy Meets World guest star is Blake Sennett, who would go on to be the lead guitarist for the band Rilo Kiley and frontman of The Elected. During his child acting days, Sennett went by the name Blake Soper. Like Scott, he played a school bully: Joseph “Joey the Rat” Epstein. His first appearance was in season two and he popped up periodically until the episode “Graduation” in season five.

17. THE SHOW SKIPS SOME GRADES.

Though the show definitely leaps ahead in time, it’s hard to tell when those leaps occur. In season one, Cory, Shawn, and Topanga are in sixth grade. In the season two premiere, the characters are officially seventh graders and enter high school. Then, in the season four episode “I Ain’t Gonna Spray Lettuce No More,” the characters are referred to as 11th graders. Season five represents their senior year and they enter college in season six. Somewhere in there, a couple grades were lost.

18. STRONG WANTED TO QUIT THE SHOW TO GO TO COLLEGE.

Angela Weiss, Getty Images

Strong approached the showrunners about quitting to focus on his studies, but Jacobs convinced him that it was possible to do the show while attending college. Strong took all morning classes and then went to work. He even had a dorm room, as the school required, though he didn’t stay there every night. In 2004, four years after the show ended, Strong graduated with an English degree from Columbia University. The academic life suited him; in 2009, he earned an MFA from Bennington College.

19. MAITLAND WARD DIDN'T AUDITION.

Maitland Ward, who joined the show during its college years, had actually auditioned for another of Jacobs’s shows, Zoe, Duncan, Jack & Jane. He really liked her, but she didn’t end up getting cast. Instead, he later called her to take the role of Jack (Matthew Lawrence) and Eric’s roommate (and crush), Rachel.

20. MICHAEL JACOBS'S SON PLAYED JOSHUA MATTHEWS.

Joshua Matthews is the younger brother of Cory and Eric, who was born during the sixth season. The part was played by various babies until the season finale, when Daniel Jacobs, son of creator Michael Jacobs, played him. Interestingly, Daniel had already made a cameo that season as a different character. He wasn’t originally supposed to be in the episode, but the child actor that they had cast was being too chatty when he was supposed to be silent during a scene. So, Jacobs called his wife, who promptly brought in Daniel to play the part.

21. WILLIE GARSON PLAYED THREE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

Getty Images

Another famous guest star: Willie Garson, a.k.a. Stanford Blatch in Sex and the City. In two first season episodes, Garson can be seen as the assistant manager of the Market Giant supermarket, where Cory’s father works. He appears again a few years later as Mervyn, who applies for a job at the Matthews’ store. Then, in season seven, he’s the minister who marries Cory and Topanga.

22. ABC RAN AN ONLINE POLL ASKING WHETHER CORY AND TOPANGA SHOULD GET MARRIED.

Jacobs wanted the iconic couple to marry before the show ended. ABC disagreed with the decision. The network executives thought that the characters, who were 20 years old, were far too young to get married. It was actually Jacobs who suggested the Internet poll. The audience wanted to see their favorite couple marry, and they did midway through the last season.

23. THE TEARS IN THE FINALE WERE GENUINE.

The last scene in the classroom with Mr. Feeny was only filmed once. "We did that last scene in one take because we were such a wreck,” Strong explainedBen Savage has said that the last scene was his favorite memory of the show. “When they said, ‘Cut!’ on that final take, it was almost like someone was saying, ‘Say goodbye to your childhood,’” he recalled.

24. THE FINAL SCENE IS THE ONLY SCENE IN THE SHOW WHERE WE SEE FISHEL'S TATTOO.

Because the scene was only filmed once, the crew had four cameras set up to capture all the action. Midway through the scene, a writer asked Jacobs, “What’s on [Danielle’s] neck?” He responded, “Chinese letters.” The writer asked, “Did you ever know they were there before?” Michael responded, “Hair has never given her pigtails before.” Those pigtails revealed a tattoo on Danielle’s neck, which is visible if you look closely,

25. MANY OF THE CHARACTERS RETURNED FOR GIRL MEETS WORLD.

Jacobs has said, “Whoever wants to be part of this show will be and whoever wants to move on will.”

10 LEGO Sets For Every Type of LEGO Builder 

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Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you’re looking for a timeless gift to give this holiday season, look no further than a LEGO set. With kits that cater to a wide age range—from toddlers fine-tuning their motor skills to adults looking for a more engaged way to relax—there’s a LEGO set out there for everyone. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite sets on Amazon to help you find the LEGO box that will make your loved one smile this year. If you end up getting one for yourself too, don’t worry: we won’t tell.

1. Classic Large Creative Gift Box; $44

Amazon

You can never go wrong with a classic. This 790-piece box contains dozens of types of colored bricks so builders of any age can let their inner architect shine. With toy windows, doors, tires, and tire rims included in addition to traditional bricks, the building possibilities are truly endless. The bricks are compatible with all LEGO construction sets, so builders have the option of creating their own world or building a new addition onto an existing set.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Harry Potter Hogwarts Express; $64

Amazon

Experience the magic of Hogwarts with this buildable Hogwarts Express box. The Prisoner Of Azkaban-inspired kit not only features Hogwarts's signature mode of transportation, but also Platform 9 ¾, a railway bridge, and some of your favorite Harry Potter characters. Once the train is built, the sides and roof can be removed for play within the cars. There is a Dementor on board … but after a few spells cast by Harry and Lupin, the only ride he’ll take is a trip to the naughty list.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Star Wars Battle of Hoth; $160

Amazon

Star Wars fans can go into battle—and rewrite the course of history—by recreating a terrifying AT-AT Walker from the Battle of Hoth. Complete with 1267 pieces to make this a fun challenge for ages 10 and up, the Walker has elements like spring-loaded shooters, a cockpit, and foldout panels to reveal its deadly inner workings. But never fear: Even though the situation might look dire, Luke Skywalker and his thermal detonator are ready to save the day.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Super Mario Adventures Starter Course; $60

Amazon

Kids can play Super Mario in 3D with LEGO’s interactive set. After constructing one of the courses, young designers can turn on the electronic Mario figurine to get started. Mario’s built-in color sensors and LCD screens allow him to express more than 100 different reactions as he travels through the course. He’ll encounter obstacles, collect coins, and avoid Goomba and Bowser to the sound of the Mario soundtrack (played via an included speaker). This is a great gift for encouraging problem-solving and creativity in addition to gaming smarts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Gingerbread House; $212

Amazon

Gingerbread houses are a great way to enjoy the holidays … but this expert-level kit takes cookie construction to a whole new level. The outside of the LEGO house rotates around to show the interior of a sweet gingerbread family’s home. Although the living room is the standout with its brick light fireplace, the house also has a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and outdoor furniture. A LEGO Christmas tree and presents can be laid out as the holidays draw closer, making this a seasonal treat you can enjoy with your family every year.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Elsa and Olaf’s Tea Party; $18

Amazon

LEGO isn’t just for big kids. Toddlers and preschoolers can start their LEGO journey early by constructing an adorable tea party with their favorite Frozen characters. As they set up Elsa and Olaf’s ice seats, house, and tea fixings, they’ll work on fine-motor, visual-spatial, and emotional skills. Building the set from scratch will enable them to put their own creative spin on a favorite movie, and will prepare them for building more complicated sets as they get older.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Collectible Art Set Building Kits; $120

Amazon

Why buy art when you can build it yourself? LEGO’s Beatles and Warhol Marilyn Monroe sets contain four options for LEGO art that can be built and displayed inside your home. Each kit comes with a downloadable soundtrack you can listen to while you build, turning your art experience into a relaxing one. Once you’re finished building your creation it can be exhibited within a LEGO brick frame, with the option to hang it or dismantle it to start on a new piece. If the 1960s aren’t your thing, check out these Sith and Iron Man options.

Buy it: Amazon

8. NASA Apollo Saturn V; $120

Amazon

The sky (or just the contents of your LEGO box) is the limit with LEGO’s Saturn V expert-level kit. Designed for ages 14 and up, this to-scale rocket includes three removable rocket stages, along with a command and service module, Lunar Lander, and more. Once the rocket is complete, two small astronaut figurines can plant a tiny American flag to mark a successful launch. The rocket comes with three stands so it can be displayed after completion, as well as a booklet for learning more about the Apollo moon missions.

Buy it: Amazon

9. The White House; $100

Amazon

Reconstruct the First Family’s home (and one of America’s most famous landmarks) by erecting this display model of the White House. The model, which can be split into three distinct sections, features the Executive Residence, the West Wing, and the East Wing of the complex. Plant lovers can keep an eye out for the colorful rose garden and Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which flank the Executive Residence. If you’re unable to visit the White House anytime soon, this model is the next best thing.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Volkswagen Camper Van; $120

Amazon

Road trip lovers and camping fanatics alike will love this vintage-inspired camper. Based on the iconic 1962 VW vehicle, LEGO’s camper gets every detail right, from the trademark safari windshield on the outside to the foldable furniture inside. Small details, like a “Make LEGO Models, Not War” LEGO T-shirt and a detailed engine add an authentic touch to the piece. Whether you’re into old car mechanics or simply want to take a trip back in time, this LEGO car will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget.

Buy it: Amazon

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10 Surprising Facts About Richard Pryor

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Richard Pryor, who was born on December 1, 1940, is considered by many to be the greatest stand-up comedian of all time. Jerry Seinfeld referred to him as “the Picasso of our profession.” Chris Rock has called him comedy’s Rosa Parks. Yet the indelible mark Pryor made on the world of comedy only tells part of his story.

Like his career in the spotlight, Pryor’s world offstage was also highly compelling and full of shocking turns. He’s one of those people whose real life was so off-the-wall at times that it becomes tough to separate fact from fiction. Here are just a few stories about the brilliant and chaotic life of the great Richard Pryor.

1. Richard Pryor had a tragic childhood.

Richard Pryor had a tragic early life, experiencing things that no child should have to endure: Born to a prostitute named Gertrude on December 1, 1940 in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor’s father was a notoriously violent pimp named LeRoy Pryor. For much of his childhood, Pryor was raised in the actual brothel where his mother worked, which was owned by his own no-nonsense grandmother, Marie Carter. With his mother periodically dropping out of his life for long stretches, it was Marie who served as Pryor’s central guardian and caretaker.

In 2015, The New Yorker published an article to mark the 10th anniversary of Pryor’s passing, which offered further details on his turbulent early life, noting:

Pryor said that one of the reasons he adored movies as a boy was that you were never in doubt as to why the women in them were screaming. As for the sounds that Richard heard in the middle of the night in his room on the top floor of one of Marie’s businesses, he had no idea what was happening to those girls. A number of times, he saw his mother, Gertrude, one of the women in Marie’s employ, nearly beaten to death by his father. Gertrude left when Richard was five. He later registered no resentment over this. “At least Gertrude didn’t flush me down the toilet,” he said. (This was not a joke. As a child, Pryor opened a shoebox and found a dead baby inside.)

2. Richard Pryor walked away from a successful career.

Early in his career Pryor found success by modeling his comedy largely on the work on Bill Cosby, which led to many comparisons being drawn between the two—a fact that Cosby reportedly grew to dislike.

There are conflicting tales of just how Pryor made the 180-degree change in style that led to him becoming a comedic legend. One of the most well traveled tales, and one that Pryor himself confirmed on more than one occasion, states that Pryor was performing his clean-cut act in Las Vegas one night when he looked out into the audience and saw Dean Martin among the crowd. If you believe the story, seeing the legendarily cool Rat Packer’s face made Pryor question what exactly he was doing and caused him to abruptly leave the stage mid-performance. Around this time Pryor moved to the San Francisco Bay area, dropped out of the comedy limelight for several years, and later reemerged with the more pointed, in-your-face style that made him an icon.

3. Richard Pryor won an Emmy for writing.

Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin, and Richard Pryor in Tomlin's 1973 TV special, Lily.CBS Television, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

Though Pryor was better known for his work in front of the camera than behind it, the only Emmy he ever won was for writing. In 1974, Pryor won the Emmy for Best Writing in Comedy for Lily, a comedy special starring Lily Tomlin (in which he also appeared). He earned a total of four nominations throughout his career, two of them as an actor and the other two as a writer.

4. Richard Pryor made Lorne Michaels quit Saturday Night Live.

Back in 1975, Saturday Night Live was brand new, so at the time the show’s creator, Lorne Michaels, wasn’t yet a powerful TV icon. Therefore, when Michaels stuck his neck out and demanded the right to have Pryor on as a guest host, he was really risking a lot. It took Michaels handing in a fake resignation to convince NBC executives to allow the famously foulmouthed comic to appear. Michaels himself had to implement a secret five-second delay for that night’s episode to be sure that any off-the-cuff, unscripted choice language didn’t make its way out over the airwaves. The delay was kept from Pryor who, upon later finding out, confirmed that he would have refused to do the show had he known about it

The episode, the seventh one of SNL’s premiere season, contained one of the most memorable and edgy sketches ever to appear on the show: (the NSFW) Word Association. Chevy Chase and Pryor’s personal writer, Paul Mooney, have each claimed to have written the sketch.

5. Richard Pryor lost the starring role in Blazing Saddles.

Pryor and Gene Wilder made four films together (Silver Streak; Stir Crazy; See No Evil, Hear No Evil; and Another You), but there could have been at least one more. Pryor was one of the credited writers on Mel Brooks’s classic Blazing Saddles and the plan for a time was that he would also co-star in the film, playing Sheriff Bart alongside Wilder as the Waco Kid. In the clip above, Wilder explained how Pryor’s infamous drug use caused him to end up in a remote city and subsequently lose the starring role to Cleavon Little.

6. It wasn’t a drug mishap that caused Richard Pryor to set himself on fire.

One of the most retold stories about Pryor centers around the incident on June 9, 1980 where he set himself on fire and took off running down a Los Angeles street fully engulfed in flames. Though he wasn’t expected to survive the episode, he eventually pulled through and spent the next six weeks recuperating in the hospital. At the time it was often reported that the cause of the accident was Pryor freebasing cocaine. Pryor later admitted that in a drug-fueled psychosis he had actually attempted to kill himself by dousing his body in 151-proof rum and setting himself ablaze. A friend of Pryor’s at the time has gone on record as saying that the idea for the act likely came about that evening after the two of them watched footage of Thích Quảng Đức, the Vietnamese monk who famously burned himself to death in 1963 as an act of protest.

7. Richard Pryor was married seven times.

Pryor was married seven times—to five different women. In the 2013 documentary Omit the Logic, a friend of Pryor’s—who served as the best man at one of his weddings—recounts how Pryor showed up at his hotel room door just a few hours after marrying Jennifer Lee, insisting that he already wanted a divorce. Pryor would get divorced from Lee the next year, only to remarry her 19 years later; the two were still together when Pryor passed away in 2005.

8. Richard Pryor had a soft spot for animals.

In 1986 Pryor was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease that ultimately left him confined to a wheelchair. Pryor was such an avid supporter of animal rights, however, that he actively spoke out against animal testing of any kind—even when that testing meant getting closer to a cure for his own condition. The biography on RichardPryor.com provides more insight into this part of his private life:

He's been honored by PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, for saving baby elephants in Botswana targeted for circuses. In 2000, as the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was preparing to open at Madison Square Garden, Pryor gave the Big Top's first African-American ringmaster, Jonathan Lee Iverson, something to think about when he wrote him a letter in which he stated: “While I am hardly one to complain about a young African American making an honest living, I urge you to ask yourself just how honorable it is to preside over the abuse and suffering of animals."

9. Richard Pryor won the first Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Beginning in 1998, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts began awarding its annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which "recognizes individuals who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th-century novelist and essayist Samuel Clemens, best known as Mark Twain." Pryor was chosen as their very first recipient. In the more than 20 years since, he has been joined by an illustrious group of comedy legends, including Carl Reiner, Bob Newhart, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Carol Burnett, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Dave Chappelle.

10. Despite his deteriorating health, Richard Pryor never stopped performing.

Even while MS continued to rob him of his mobility, Pryor’s comedic mind continued cranking. Throughout the early 1990s Pryor would often show up at Los Angeles’s famous standup club The Comedy Store to take to the stage in his wheelchair. In the above clip from The Joe Rogan Experience, a few comics discuss what it was like to watch the all-time great perform in his diminished state.

This story has been updated for 2020.