Legendary comedian Dick Gregory was born on this day, Oct. 12, in 1932, in St. Louis, Missouri. Born Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory, he discovered his passion for comedy at an early age when he was drafted to the U.S. Army in 1954. It was after winning several Army talent shows that he began to develop his social satire. He hit the comedy scene in 1961 when Hugh Hefner asked him to perform at the Chicago’s Playboy Club.
The comedian’s activism led Gregory to get involved with politics. He ran for president in 1968, as part of the Freedom and Peace Party. He lost and later published his book, Write Me In, about his presidential campaign.
Gregory’s strong sense of social justice and uncanny ability to find humor in serious issues made him a comedy legend. He passed away in 2017.