According to People magazine, “Foxx reportedly once earned $4 million in a single year, but depleted his fortune with a lavish lifestyle, exacerbated by what he called ‘very bad management.'” Contributing to his problems were his divorces. Foxx spent over $150,000 awaiting his divorce from his second wife Betty Jean which included monthly support payments of $10,000 following their separation in 1974. He also was ordered to pay $2,500 a month while awaiting divorce from third wife Joi after their separation in 1979,and then paid her a $300,000 divorce settlement in 1981.
In 1983, he filed for bankruptcy with proceedings continuing at least through 1989. The IRS filed tax liens against Redd Foxx’s property for income taxes he owed for the years 1983 to 1986 totaling $755,166.21. On November 28, 1989, the IRS seized his home in Las Vegas and seven vehicles (including a 1927 Model T, a 1975 Panther J72, a 1983 Zimmer, and a Vespa motor scooter) to pay the taxes which by then had grown to $996,630, including penalties and interest. Agents also seized “$12,769 in cash and a dozen guns, including a semiautomatic pistol,” among some 300 items in total, reportedly leaving only Foxx’s bed. Foxx stated that the IRS “took my necklace and the ID bracelet off my wrist and the money out of my pocket … I was treated like I wasn’t human at all.”It has been reported that at the time of his death in 1991 Foxx owed more than $3.6 million in taxesFamily and friends praised Foxx Redd as a warm and gentle being who loved the human race. Della Reese described him as a poet, exceptional clown, sensitive, and loving man. Another friend of Foxx, Rev. O.C Smith, said that Redd knew how to laugh and taught him the power of laughter. On the day of his funeral, many of his friends paid a glowing tribute to him. Wearing a cap, Redd gave to him, Col. Tom Parker said:
“I’m here to wear the cap my friend gave to me 10 years ago. Redd Foxx was a superstar the day he was born and still is one.”
Redd Foxx meant different things to many people, but one thing that stood out is that he was well respected and loved by them, and is greatly missed. Redd Foxx was born in 1922 as John Elroy Sanford in St. Louis. He got the nickname Redd due to his ruddy complexion, while the name Foxx was given to him by a baseball player, Jimmie Foxx.
His love for poetry was seen by all when an incomplete poem he wrote for his wife was read to the audience at his funeral. In the poem, Redd stated how much he loved her and was willing to give his life for her. Redd moved to Chicago at age 13 and joined a band. After this, the late actor moved to New York, where he became a comedian, performing in black nightclubs and theatres. He got his big break in 1972 with the series “Sanford and Son” before going on to join ABC. He soon began his own show, “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour,” which didn’t last long, and later on, “The Redd Foxx Show,” which wasn’t very successful.
Redd Foxx, during his lifetime, paved the way for many black comedians, especially after the release of his comedy album, “Laff of the Party.” He is an icon who will always be fondly remembered for generations to come.
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