Richard Cactus Pryor - Biography
Early Life

Richard "Cactus" Pryor (born January 7, 1923) is considered a legend in Texas broadcasting. A native Austinite, his grandfather helped build the Texas State Capitol building.  His father was Richard “Skinny” Pryor, a vaudevillian performer who sang and danced and later owned one of the first moving picture shows in Austin, The Cactus, hence his nickname.  Cactus mother Mary Pryor was a notable woman in her own right.  She reared six children, of whom Cactus was the second in birth order, was house mother for over twenty years to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and Camp Longhorn ‘Mom’ to generations of campers.

Media Career

Cactus Pryor has been prominent in Texas broadcasting and entertainment since 1944.  He went to work for Lady Bird Johnson’s radio station and with short absences for jobs in Houston, Alice, & Corpus Christy, TX has remained in that broadcasting network until present day. 
Cactus was program manager of Austin’s first and, for ten years, only Television station, KTBC.  He remained a constant in Austin television until 1982.  His programming decisions both reflected and shaped the attitudes that are uniquely Austin, TX.  He fully integrated local television programming in the early 1950’s with a ‘but of course’ attitude.  It was never a question or decision that had to be made. He is colorblind to talent and human spirit.

Filmmaking Career

Cactus has also appeared in two movies, Hellfighters and The Green Berets with John Wayne.  He and “The Duke” were friends and Cactus was introduced to the crew on the set of The Green Berets as the funniest man alive.

Speaking Career

As an after dinner speaker, Cactus has entertained audiences all over the world.  He would often appear in uniform, or some other guise, as a person from another country who had an expertise in whatever the group assembled was interested in.  He talked with many of the group in pre-speech gatherings then gave his speech from the podium after being introduced by an official with the group.  After sitting down to applause and laughter he was re-introduced as Cactus Pryor from Austin, TX.  His second speech would regale the audience with the things he had earlier been told by the unsuspecting group members.  Unsuspecting audience members include
 

Literary Career

Cactus has been a distinguished writer all his life and the bulk of his writing has been for the radio ear or the television monitor.  He has published two books of his radio commentaries, INSIDE TEXAS, and PLAYBACK.  His most recent book to be released in 2009 is MY SAND TRAP OR YOURS? A Collection of Golf Poems, Essays and Tips.  His one-man play on J. Frank Dobie, the reknown Texas writer and folklorist, remains unpublished at this time.
 

Awards & Recognitions

Humanitarian of the Year – Austin Humane Society
Texas Association for Retarded Children
State of Texas on Behalf of Mentally Retarded
Austin Mental Health Society Award for Contribution to Mental Helath of the Community
USO Certificate of Distinction
Mayor’s Appreciation Award 1975, in Recognition of Civic Consciousness
United Way
Cactus Pryor Day, City of Austin, Feb 4, 1982
Austin’s Most Worthy Citizen 1983
Crimestoppers
Texas Tourist Development Agency Board
Bergstrom Air Force Base
Headliner’s Club, Austin, TX
Honorary Texas EX-Lifetime Membership
National Civil Defense Award
Capitol Kidney Foundation Board of Directors, Charter Member
Austin & Travis County Committee on Human Opportunities, Founding Member
Austin Community Movie Company Board