Richard “Cactus” Pryor, a longtime Austin radio and TV broadcaster, has died at the age of 88.
Pryor was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and broke his leg earlier this month after a fall.
He was a longtime fixture on KLBJ-AM and also appeared on Austin TV station KTBC.
In 2009, Pryor was interviewed by his wife Peggy for KUT’s StoryCorps Memory Project. You can hear that interview here.
“My real purpose of being in radio is I like to make people laugh, make them happy,” Pryor said in the interview. “That was just in my heart.”
Pryor said he was hired by Lady Bird Johnson’s broadcasting company upon his return to Austin from World War II. He served as the program director of KTBC, Austin’s first local TV station, for ten years.
KUT News editor Ian Crawford worked with Cactus Pryor when Crawford was a reporter at KLBJ-AM.
“When I first started working at KLBJ in 2003, everyone spoke of him as this great legend, and yet when I met him he was as personable and friendly and welcoming as anybody I met in Austin to that point,” Crawford said. “He was one of the funniest men I ever met in my life.”
On a Facebook page for Cactus Pryor fans, people are paying tribute to the legendary local broadcaster.
“Your wit and grace have been a great inspiration to me,” Dwayne Schiller posted. “Thank you for having been with us Cactus. God bless you and your family,” wrote Tony Vu.