The great Redd Foxx (1922-1991) was born John Elroy Sanford 92 years ago today in St. Louis, Missouri. This photo of Mr. Foxx with Nina Simone in 1959 is one of my favorites. Photo: G. Marshall Wilson.
Malcolm X and Redd Foxx reunited in the early 1960′s.
In the early 1940s before converting to The nation of Islam Malcolm Little then known as “Detroit Red” became close friends with Jon Sanford aka Redd Foxx then known as “Chicago Red”. They both were sharp dressers and resembled each other. Both young men worked at Jimmy’s Chicken Shack in Harlem and hustled the street together. Redd confided to Anthony Major, who ran Redd Foxx Productions in the mid-1980s, that Malcolm was the only person he really trusted. “They used to rob places together and sleep on rooftops together. Redd said he knew Malcolm has his back and trusted him. If Redd was in a fight, he could turn his back and know Malcolm was gonna be in the other side, fighting with him.“
For a while they were partners in crime stealing suits and reselling them, dealing marijuana and other petty crimes. They had a falling out as Malcolm’s criminal activities increased resulting in his 6 year incarceration which led to his rebirth as Malcolm X.
“Malcolm didn’t have the showbiz talent so he didn’t give a damn what he got into,” Redd said. “He’d take on anything to get some dough. He was a little bit more aggressive, but I’d rather be sleeping with a broad and go somewhere [to a club] and do fifteen minutes of comedy.” (Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story)
“We became good buddies in a speakeasy where later on I was a waiter; Chicago Red was the funniest dishwasher on this earth. Now he’s making his living being funny as a nationally known stage and nightclub comedian. I don’t see any reason why old Chicago Red would mind me telling that he is Redd Foxx.“ - Malcolm X (The Autobiography of Malcolm X)