R.I.P. Rudy Ray Moore!

I was heartsick to hear of the death of Rudy Ray Moore, the great comic legend and star of outrageous Blaxploitation films like Dolemite and Disco Godfather. Moore died from complications of diabetes at age 81. Before Richard Pryor, before Eddie Murphy, before rap, there was Rudy Ray Moore. This innovator from Ft. Smith, Arkansas, began working the "chitlin' circuit" of black ghetto clubs with Redd Foxx and others before making his own rude records like Dolemite For President and This Pussy Belongs To Me. When he broke into the Blaxploitation films populated by such luminaries as Jim Brown, Fred Williamson and Ron O'Neal, he did so with a difference -- he was the Kung-Fu Comedian. With his wild pimp outfits and stream-of-conscience sing-song raps his films were big hits in inner city theaters in Chicago and Atlanta.

In Dolemite, his first film, he played a nightclub entertainer set up to go to prison by a rival club owner. With a stable of Kung-Fu hookers he goes after the bad guys with "bone-crushing, skull-splitting, brain-blasting action!" as the trailer screamed. The Human Tornado, a sequel, and my personal favorite followed, then Petey Wheatstraw, The Devil's Son-In-Law, and the jaw-dropping Disco Godfather. There was no one quite like him on screen -- he was wild-looking, preposterous and hilarious. I had the good fortune to meet him after interviewing him for PAPER in 1992 and he was charming and funny and great. In his words: "I'm the man that killed Monday, whupped Tuesday, put Wednesday In the hospital, called up Thursday to tell Friday not to bury Saturday on Sunday!" He was just the greatest...

Photo above of Dennis Dermody and Rudy Ray Moore circa 1992

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