Richard Pryor's Widow Confirmed Claims He and Marlon Brando Had an Affair

Jennifer Lee Pryor spoke out after Quincy Jones' headline-making claim.

In 2018, Quincy Jones set the internet ablaze with a couple of lengthy interviews in which he spilled a lot of tea about his time in the entertainment industry and the celebrities he's encountered. One interview included a claim that Richard Pryor and Marlon Brando had hooked up—and while that may have sounded outlandish, Pryor's widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, then confirmed the music producer's words. As she put it, "Quincy started pouring the tea and I had to take that teakettle away from him."

Meanwhile, other people in both Pryor's and Brando's lives have spoken out about the affair, and claimed that it never happened. Read on to find out more about the alleged connection between the two men.

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Jones said Brando and Pryor got together.

Quincy Jones at the 2018 Carousel of Hope Ball
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

In a 2018 interview with Vulture, Jones talked about his close friendship with Brando and said, "He was the most charming [expletive] you ever met. He'd [expletive] anything. Anything! He'd [expletive] a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye."

Interviewer David Marchese wanted to clarify. "He slept with them?" he asked. "How do you know that?"

Jones responded, "Come on, man. He did not give a [expletive]!"

In an interview with GQ from around the same time, Jones said that Brando was like a brother to him. The article explains that when Jones went through a tough time in the 1980s, Brando let him stay on his private island in Tahiti to recover.

Asked what they did together, Jones said, "Everything. Party our [expletive] off."

Pryor's widow spoke out.

Richard Pryor and Jennifer Lee at a party in 1979
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Pryor was married seven times during his life to five different women. He and Lee Pryor were married twice: from 1981 to 1982, and again from 2001 until his death in 2005. Soon after Jones' interview with Vulture was published, Lee Pryor spoke out about Jones' Brando comment. She told TMZ that Pryor would have no shame about what Jones said, and would think it was funny.

"It was the '70s! Drugs were still good, especially quaaludes," Lee Pryor said. "If you did enough cocaine, you'd [expletive] a radiator and send it flowers in the morning."

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She explained the relationship further.

Marlon Brando at London Airport in 1967
Dove/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In her own interview with Vulture, Lee Pryor said of her husband's sexual relationship with Brando, "Knowing Richard, it was a one-off thing" and likely happened after they were out partying together. She said that his diaries, which she planned to publish, included accounts of his "bisexual experiences."

"He really discusses his bisexuality in a very nuanced and profound way," she said. "I should say his bisexual experiences. He didn't consider himself bisexual, but he was very open about his sexuality and never put a label on it."

Lee Pryor also told People in 2019—amid the release of the documentary I Am Richard Pryor—that Pryor didn't have an affair with Brando, but a "dalliance."

"It certainly wasn't an affair, it was a dalliance with Brando, as he had with other men," Lee Pryor said. "Richard wasn't gay, he just had dalliances. He preferred women over any other experience, but he wasn't loathed to have those experiences."

Pryor's daughter denied the story.

Rain Pryor at the premiere of "Whoopi Goldberg presents Moms Mabley" in 2013
lev radin / Shutterstock

Richard's daughter, Rain Pryor—whom he welcomed with second wife Shelley Bonusdenied that her father had a sexual relationship with Brando in posts on Facebook.

As reported by Vulture, she wrote, "Daddy did NOT have relations with Brando." She also called Lee Pryor his "so called widow," and said that Jones "was once a brilliant music producer who is losing his mind, and decided to garner publicity for himself with a sensationalized interview."

Lee Pryor responded to Rain, telling The Daily Beast, "Darling, you weren't even a twinkle in the eye yet." She said that Richard "would be talking about it today if he were here. He'd be [expletive] that Q was getting a hard time."

Lee Pryor concluded of Pryor's seven kids, "They don't know their father the way I know him, clearly, and I think she's off-base. But that's OK, I wish them well." (Lee Pryor and Pryor did not have children together.)

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A member of Brando's family also spoke out.

Miko Brando at a party for Evander Holyfield in 2012
Joe Seer / Shutterstock

In response to Jones' story, Brando's son, Miko Brando, gave a statement to TMZ: "The Marlon Brando family has heard the recent comments by Quincy Jones and we are disappointed that anyone would make such a wrongful comment about either Marlon Brando or Richard Pryor."

As reported by People, Brando—who had been married to three women during his life and had 11 children—also spoke out about his sexuality. In 1976, he reportedly said, "Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news … Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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