From Janet Maslin’s review
in the New York Times
of Becoming Richard Pryor
by Scott Saul:
Mr. Saul has also found a lot of people who had violent conflicts with the famously mercurial Pryor but did get to see him at very close range.Especially women. Their stories about him are anything but funny, and not even knowledge of what Pryor must have learned during his boyhood can erase the horror that he inflicted as an adult. The stories of beatings are just business as usual; the woman beaten about the head with two brandy bottles, one in each fist, takes it up a notch. Those who chose to stay with him had to get used to coming home and finding him in bed with somebody else (usually female, but not always; he acknowledged his bisexuality). Sometimes, they were ordered to participate, willingly or not. One escaped for a while but was eventually wooed back with gifts including a chinchilla coat. She came home a while later to the ghastly smell of chinchilla on fire.
A big difference between Cosby and the late Pryor is that Cosby held on to much of his money (his net worth
is estimated to be in the mid 9 figures), so he’s a deep-pocketed target for lawsuits. I doubt if Pryor, who earned huge paychecks in the late Seventies and early Eighties, ever had two nickels to rub together for long.