Dick Gregory was born Richard Claxton Gregory in St. Louis, Missouri on October 12, 1932. He attended Southern Illinois University, but left in 1954 to join the Army. In 1956, he moved to Chicago to become a comedian. His big break came in January 1961, when he was asked to fill in for a comedian who had canceled a gig at the flagship Playboy Club in Chicago. His performance earned him a contract for the club. He became one of the first black comedians that could make it big in the white world. He created several comedy albums including In Living Black and White and Dick Gregory Talks Turkey. In 1962, he joined a demonstration for black voting rights in Mississippi and became a social activist. He viewed it as a higher calling and would often skip club dates to march or to perform at benefits for civil rights groups. His autobiography, nigger written with Robert Lipsyte, was published in 1964. Throughout the years, he went on dozens of hunger strikes over issues including the Vietnam War, the failed Equal Rights Amendment, police brutality, South African apartheid, nuclear power, prison reform, drug abuse, and American Indian rights. His fasting led to an interest in nutrition. In the 1980s, He worked with a Swedish health food company to develop a weight-reduction powder called Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet. He died on August 19, 2017 at the age of 84.