Born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri in 1932, Dick Gregory was a student athlete, excelling in track and field at the Southern Illinois University, when he was drafted into the US Army. His commanding officer suggested that he would be a good comedian, and Gregory won a number of talent contests while in the military. When he returned to SIU in 1954 after serving, but quickly left for Chicago. It was there that he first began delivering his trademark cutting racial commentary and became one of the first black comedians to perform for largely white audiences. As he gained popularity, he was discovered by Hugh Hefner, who put Gregory on stage at the Playboy Club in Chicago. He was hotly pursued by late night television hosts, and in 1961, Gregory made his debut on "Tonight Starring Jack Parr" (NBC, 1957-1962). In a then-unprecedented move, Parr invited Gregory to have a conversation after his set, which generations of late-night comedian guests later referred to as "getting the couch." His social activism became more prevalent in the early 1960s and frequently marched and spoke in events of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1964, Gregory's autobiography was published. Entitled n----r, the book was combative but commercially successful. His political and social activism continued to drive him when he ran against Richard Daley for mayor of Chicago in 1967, and in 1968 Gregory gained nearly 48,000 votes when he campaigned as a write in candidate for President. Although he continued his comedy, Gregory was guided by advocacy, a passion that turned to fight the Vietnam War and sometimes to conspiracy theories about the Warren Commission and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Gregory later championed animal rights and always continued to fight for equality and justice. He passed away in 2017.