Here’s How Redd Foxx Honored His Late Brother on ‘Sanford & Son’

Redd Foxx
Redd Foxx wearing a blue pinstripe suit; circa 1970; New York. (Photo by Art Zelin/Getty Images)

*The late Redd Foxx once revealed in an interview with Jet Magazine the ways in which he honored his brother, who he also credited as being the funny one in his family.

It was his brother who Redd said motivated him to become a comedian, and once he became a success, Foxx would go on to pay homage to his brother in the most awesome way possible.

Foxx’s brother was apparently a regular fixture in the prison scene during Redd’s younger years, and he died years before Redd did. So when the comedian landed his famed “Sanford & Son” show, he named his character after his brother.

Redd’s real name is John Elroy Sanford and his brother’s name is Fred G. Sanford, and he told Jet that the show’s execs allowed him to honor his brother’s memory by naming his character after him. Brother Fred died five years before the show premiered.

Redd Foxx
Redd Foxx (L); his late brother Fred G. Sanford (R) (via Pinterest)

Their father’s name was Fred G. Sanford, but Foxx didn’t name his character after him because he left his family when Redd was four years old.

Foxx also explained to Jet that he regularly performed in prisons across the nation because of his brother.

“My brother was a first baseman but he could never get a break in baseball at that time because of race prejudice,” he said. “The World was not ready for a Black player on a White team in 1937. My brother was the best first basemen in Chicago, but he never got the chance and turned to robbery.”

Adding, “He was like a lot of other kids who turned to crime because of lack of opportunity for their natural talent.”

As an inmate, Fred racked up numerous plaques and awards while in prison for his outstanding baseball skills on prison teams. 

“I’ve been to almost every prison in America, but you never read about it. I’ve been to Atlanta Federal, to prisons in San Francisco and to the one in Chicago several times. I’ve been to Attica (in New York). I’ve been to Sing Sing in Rahway Penitentiary in New Jersey. I’ve been to most all of them.

“The memory of my brother is the story behind these appearances. My brother, Fred, is the one I named my TV character (on “Sanford and Son”) after. […] He always told me how important it was that inmates got some entertainment inside the prison walls. So I just dedicated myself to it. After he passed, I started doing all those shows.”

And there you have it. 

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