Chris Rock (1965- )

Chris Rock Performing at the Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis in 2017
Chris Rock Performing at the Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis in 2017
Photo by Andy Witchger (CC BY 2.0)

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Christopher Julius “Chris” Rock is an actor and stand-up comedian. Rock, the eldest of seven children, was born on February 7, 1965, to Rosalie and Julius Rock in Andrews, South Carolina. His family moved to New York City, New York when he was a child. Growing up, Rock faced racism and bullying among white students, where he was involved in racially integrating busing to school in white neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. The bullying got worse for Rock, where he attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn, New York until his parents pulled him out. Rock would later earn his General Educational Development (GED) diploma. Rock’s father died in 1988 after ulcer surgery.

Chris Rock’s stand-up comedy career began in 1984 when the 19-year-old performed stand-up comedy in the New York City comic club, Catch a Rising Sun. During one of his performances, comedian and actor Eddie Murphy saw his act and befriended him. Murphy became a mentor to Rock, giving him his first film role in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). The following year, Rock appeared in the comedy film, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. In 1990, Rock became a cast member on Saturday Night Live until was fired from the show in 1993. During this time, Rock would continue to appear in movies, including New Jack City (1991), Boomerang (1992), CB4 (1993), Panther (1995), Pootie Tang (2001), I Think I Love My Wife (2007), and Death at a Funeral (2010). Rock also has produced television shows, including “The Chris Rock Show,” a talk show that aired on HBO from 1997 to 2000. In 2005, Rock created the TV show “Everybody Hates Chris” based on his teenage experiences. The show was a success and earned Rock three Emmy nominations. It would continue until it was canceled in 2009.

During his career, Rock also released comedy albums, including Born Suspect (1991), Roll with the New (1997), Bigger and Blacker (1999), Never Scared (2004), and Tamborine (2018). His stand-up comedy specials included Chris Rock: Big Ass Jokes (1994), Chris Rock: Bring the Pain (1996), Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker (1999), Chris Rock: Never Scared(2004), Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger (2008), and Chris Rock: Tamborine (2018). Rock won three Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album in 1998, 2000, and 2006.

On September 19, 2021, Rock announced that he tested positive for Covid-19 but later recovered. Rock’s most controversial movement came on March 27, 2022, at the 94th Academy Awards when the 57-year-old host of the Awards, joked about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head resulting from a hair condition called Alopecia areata. In response to the joke, Will Smith walked on stage and slapped Chris Rock. This assault, witnessed by millions worldwide, resulted in Smith receiving a ten-year ban from appearing at future Academy Awards shows.

Rock’s career continues as of 2022. Rock was one time married to Malaak Compton Rock in 1996. The couple had two daughters before divorcing in 2016 after 20 years of marriage.

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