Comedian and actor Chris Rock was born on February 7, 1965, in Andrews, South Carolina. Rock is the eldest son of Julius Rock, a truck driver, and Rose Rock, a teacher.
When Rock was a toddler his family relocated to Brooklyn, New York. He spent the remainder of his childhood in Brooklyn's notoriously tough Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
He attended a nearly all-white public school and, as a result, was subjected to discrimination at an early age. Rock's early bouts with racism greatly influenced his comedic material.
Rock is most noted for his raw humor and has no qualms about making fun of all sexes and races. His uninhibited nature has garnered him respect as well as controversy from both white and minority communities.
At age 18, Rock was discovered by Eddie Murphy doing stand-up comedy at New York's Comedy Strip. A small role in Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop II (1987) was Rock's film debut. Rock also starred in Keenan Ivory Wayans’ I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988).
In 1990, Rock followed the footsteps of his idol, Murphy, by joining the cast of Saturday Night Live. A year later, he released his first comedy album, Born Suspect (1991). He also undertook the more dramatic role of playing Pookie, a drug addicted informant, in Mario Van Peebles’ feature New Jack City (1991).
Chris Rock Movies
1996 marked a turning point in Rock's career. His talents were recognized by HBO, and the cable network produced a comedy special starring Rock, titled Bring in the Pain. The comedian won two Emmy Awards and wide critical acclaim for the show.
In 1997, Rock began hosting his own television show on the HBO Network, The Chris Rock Show, which earned him two CableACE awards. During this high point in his career, Rock also appeared in Sgt. Bilko (1996), Beverly Hills Ninja (1997) and Lethal Weapon 4 (1998).
Rock also received two Grammy Awards for his spoken comedy albums Roll With the New (1997) and Bigger and Blacker (1999). In 1999, he appeared in the irreverent big-screen comedy Dogma, alongside such stars as Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Salma Hayek. He had another big screen role in 2000, playing a hit man in the edgy comedy Nurse Betty starring Renee Zellweger.
In 2005, Rock hosted the Academy Awards and received mixed reviews for his performance. He made actor Jude Law one of his punchlines, joking: “If you want Tom Cruise and all you can get is Jude Law, wait!”
Prior to hosting, Rock also took a jab at the awards show: “What straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars? Show me one. And they don't recognize comedy, and you don't see a lot of black people nominated, so why should I watch it?”
Everybody Hates Chris
In 2005, Rock debuted a sitcom on The CW Television Network called Everybody Hates Chris, a spoof on the perennially popular Everybody Loves Raymond. The show was inspired by Rock's teenage years growing up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of New York City. The show quickly became the second most-watched comedy on the network.
In 2012, Rock starred opposite Julie Delpy in the independent romantic comedy 2 Days in New York. In 2014, Rock wrote, directed and starred in Top Five, a film in which he plays a comedic actor struggling with his career and his upcoming wedding to a reality TV star.
In 2015, it was announced that Rock would return to host the 88th Academy Awards in 2016, marked by the uproar surrounding the lack of ethnic diversity among the nominations. His opening monologue contained politicized humor that directly took on the controversy, including Hollywood hiring practices.
“Is Hollywood racist? You’re damn right Hollywood is racist. But it ain’t that racist that you’ve grown accustomed to,” he said during the monologue. “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is. But things are changing. Things are changing.”
Rock married Malaak Compton on November 23, 1996. The pair welcomed daughter Lola Simone in 2002 and daughter Zahra Savannah in 2004. In 2004, Rock filed for divorce from Compton, admitting to infidelity and porn addiction. Their divorce was finalized on August 22, 2016.
February 7, 1965
- In 2007, Channel 4 appointed Chris Rock as the ninth greatest standup comic in United Kingdom based on the conducted votes.
- After being beaten and bullied by white students in high school, he dropped out, earned his GED, and worked at fast food restaurants.
- While doing stand up at New York City’s Catch a Rising Star, he befriended Eddie Murphy and was given a small role in Beverly Hills Cop II in 1987.
- He’s played starring roles in the films Down to Earth, I Think I Love My Wife, Dogma, Grown Ups and Top Five and he provided the voice for Marty the zebra in the Madagascar films.
- He created and narrated the TV series Everybody Hates Chris, which starred Tyler James Williams in the title role.
- His first comedy album was released in 1991, entitled Born Suspect.
- One tool he took from his grandfather was to only write brief phrases down instead of entire routines. This way, he’s constantly talking instead of reading.
- To date, Rock has earned four Emmy Awards to date, adding one for The Chris Rock Show in 1999 and another for his stand-up special Chris Rock: Kill the Messenger in 2009.