Reynaldo Rey, whose career as a stand-up comedian and actor spanned more than 40 years, has died at the age of 75 of complications from a stroke. A prolific performer who released three albums over his long career, Rey was perhaps best known for appearing in films like White Men Can’t Jump and Friday, where he played minor but memorable roles. His first acting job was a one-episode stint on the Sandford And Son spinoff Sanford, working with his long-time friend and manager, Redd Foxx. Rey was apparently working on a tribute film to his mentor, titled Foxx, during the last few years of his life.
On stage, Rey was a bombastic, theatrical performer, throwing a powerful voice and missionary zeal behind his jokes, as in this clip from a show at the Apollo Theater:
That same intensity was applied to Rey’s film work, where he attacked small roles with gusto. One of his best-known performances was as the father of character Red in the 1995 comedy Friday, whose tendency toward self-preservation provides the punchline to a long flashback sequence:
Rey also made frequent appearances on television, contributing to sitcoms like The Bernie Mac Show and Everybody Loves Chris. In the late ’90s, he had a recurring role as co-host “Uncle Reynaldo” on BET’s Comic View, providing commentary and banter on the various stand-up acts.
Overall, Rey appeared in more than 50 films and 30 TV shows over the course of his career, as well as numerous stand-up shows and plays. He is survived by his wife, Evelyn; his death on Thursday was confirmed by his manager.