Born In: Fort Smith, Arkansas, United States
Rudy Ray Moore was an American actor, singer, comedian and producer, known for creating the popular comic character Dolemite. Born and raised in a poor African-American family in Arkansas, he began working at a very early age, developing an interest in singing and rapping. He sang in a few churches in his hometown and at the age of 15, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio, and began his singing and stand-up comedy career. He was later enlisted into the U.S. Army in the entertainment unit and was stationed abroad for 34 months. He moved to the U.S. and after living briefly in Seattle, he moved to Los Angeles, and started his career in stand-up comedy, adopting the stage persona of a profanity spewing pimp named ‘Dolemite’, which became immensely success. He eventually became known as the Godfather of rapping, owing to the inclusion of rhymes and beats in his stand-up routines. His stand-up specials, such as ‘Below the Belt’ and ‘A Comedian is Born’ became a rage among the Black American population. He also released music albums, which mostly reached only the black population. He also ventured into films, with some successful films such as ‘Dolemite’, ‘The Monkey Hustle’ and ‘Disco Godfather’.
Also Known As: Rudolph Frank Moore
Died At Age: 81
father: Nathaniel Moore, Sr.
mother: Lucille Moore
siblings: Geroldine Anderson, Gerry Moore, Lloyd Ray Moore, Nathaniel Moore, Norman Moore
children: Yvette Wesson
Born Country: United States
Height: 1.78 m
place of death: Akron, Ohio, United States
Diseases & Disabilities: Diabetes
Cause of Death: Diabetes
Rudy Ray Moore was born Rudolph Frank Moore, on March 17, 1927, in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to Nathaniel and Lucille Moore into a financially backward African-American household. And since he was the eldest child in the family of 7 children, he began working at a very early age to support his family.
Before he embarked on a comedy career, he was a musician, singing in local churches for small pay checks. Eventually, his talent got him winning a singing content, which led him to move to Cleveland, Ohio, at the age of 15. Rudy began performing music and dancing in many nightclubs in and around Cleveland, at the venues known as ‘black and tan bars’. They mostly catered to the local black population, which was not mostly allowed to visit the high end clubs and bars, where the white people went.
In Ohio, Rudy Ray Moore also worked in the kitchen of restaurants. But he knew that making a career in the show business was his true calling and hence, he began learning tap dance. By the time he was 17, he had moved to Milwaukee, where he adopted the stage persona of Prince DuMarr and also joined a black travelling variety show, where he further honed his skills as a skilled dancer, singer and a comedian.
By the time the Second World War was over, he was already quite a known local face, known for his raunchy and seductive dance moves. In 1950, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served in the entertainment unit in Germany. He served in the army for 34 months and performed there, adopting the persona named Harlem Hillbilly. He also performed in South Korea and Japan, becoming extremely popular among the American and foreign troops.
He shifted to Seattle after his stint with the army and began his career as a comedian and a musician.
In Seattle, he worked in many bars and clubs as a comedian and singer and earned some reputation. He recorded his music in a style which was ‘street rhymes mixed with rap’, in LA, under the label Federal Records. In 1956, his first official album was released, named ‘Step it up and go’.
The album was a success and he went on doing many stage shows, adopting the persona called Prince DuMor. He was known as a turban-headed prince of the blues. However, his popularity was not as big as he expected it to be. He somehow believed that the West Coast would provide him with better chances of success and he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1950s and started a fresh career, under his real name.
In LA, Rudy Ray Moore didn’t achieve success instantly and took to work in a store called Dolphin’s of Hollywood, a record store. It was while he was working there that changed his career for good. A homeless drunk man regularly visited his store and asked for food. Rudy would give him money only after he performs a little show with the name Dolemite.
Inspired by this character, Rudy Ray Moore took on the persona and added some of his personal quirks to it. By then, Rudy had become highly interested in another profession, as a stand-up comedian. He adopted the persona of Dolemite in his comedy routines and made him a kung-fu fighting clique, and this turned out to be the turning point of his stand-up comedy career.
He also worked in clubs side by side, and during one of his shows in a local club, he met a record producer named Dootsie Williams, who brought him to music recording scene of the LA. Hence, in the next few years, Rudy was seen recording rhythms and blues songs for many major record labels, such as Cash, Federal and Imperial Records.
Over the years as the rap music flourished in the country, Rudy became known as the Godfather of the genre in the USA. Many popular artists in the 1990s, the decade when rap music became a rage in the USA, accepted that Rudy had been among the key inspirations behind their works.
In 1959, Rudy Ray Moore released his first comedy routine called ‘Below the Belt’, which became extremely popular owing to Rudy’s blatant use of sexual themes and profanities. Some of his more popular routines were Shine and the Great Titanic, along with Dolemite. Rudy promoted himself, claiming that he was country’s first X-rated comedian, however, the claim has been refuted by the industry experts since.
But at that time, this claim worked in his favour and his comedy routines began getting more and more audience. Throughout the 1960s, he attained immense popuarity owing to the success of more such comedy specials, such as ‘The Beatnik Scene’ and ‘A Comedian is Born’.
In the early 1970s, he was at the very peak of his success. The main reason of his unprecedented success was said to be the innovative comedy which was combined with rhymes and musical scores, which attracted the audience as it was something that was fresh. In the early 1970s, he released two comedy albums named ‘East Out More Often’ and ‘Dolemite’. Both the albums sold more than one million copies combined and Rudy had become a household name by then, among the black population of the country.
He also picked up a street poet named Big Brown, who had been an influence to many legendary American musicians such as Bob Dylan, and recorded songs with him. Rudy produced an album with Big Brown, named ‘The First Man of Poetry, Big Brown: Between Heaven and Hell’.
By the early 1970s, Rudy Ray Moore had accumulated enough funds to start the production of his own film titled ‘Dolemite’, which released in 1975. 1970s was known as an era of ‘blaxploitation’, and the film ‘Dolemite’ was considered to be one of the greatest films in the genre. In the film, Rudy played the role of Dolemite, a kung-fu fighting, profanity spewing pimp who was famous for his sexual superiority.
The film became a critical and commercial success, further enabling Rudy to make more films, such as ‘The Human Tornado’, which was a direct sequel to ‘Dolemite’.
Apart from his film projects, Rudy also kept releasing music albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, he was mostly popular among the black Americans as the white population was still largely unaware of his works and his impact on the American art scene.
In the following years, Rudy Ray Moore continued working in the music and comedy industries and released albums, such as ‘This Ain’t No White Christmas’ and ‘Good-Ole Big Ones’. He also made appearances in several films such as ‘Shoe Shine Boys’ and ‘The Return of Dolemite’.
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