Born in Peoria, Illinois, Pryor grew up in his grandmother’s brothel, where his mother, Gertrude L. (Thomas), practiced prostitution. His father, LeRoy “Buck Carter” Pryor was a former bartender and boxer.
After his mother abandoned him when he was 10, he was raised primarily by his grandmother Marie Carter, a violent woman who would beat him for any of his eccentricities. Pryor was one of four children raised in his grandmother’s brothel and was molested as a child.
On June 9, 1980, during the making of the film Bustin’ Loose, Pryor set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine while drinking 151-proof rum. He ran down Parthenia St. from his Northridge, California, home, on fire, until subdued by police. He was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for burns covering more than half of his body. Pryor spent six weeks in recovery at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital. His daughter, Rain Pryor, stated that Pryor poured high-proof rum over his body and set himself on fire in a bout of drug-induced psychosis.
Costner became interested in acting while in his last year of college, and on graduation married Cindy Silva. The couple honeymooned in Puerto Vallarta and on the return plane journey had a chance encounter with actor and fellow passenger Richard Burton, who had purchased all the seats around him for solitude. Burton agreed to speak to Costner after he finished his book. Costner, who had been taking acting classes, but had not told his wife about his desire to be an actor, watched Burton closely and approached when Burton gestured. Costner told Burton that he would prefer that his life was not filled with the type of drama that had followed Burton and asked if he would have to tolerate that if he became an actor. Burton replied, “You have green eyes. I have green eyes. I think you’ll be fine.” After landing, Burton’s limousine pulled up to the curb where Costner and Cindy were waiting for a taxi, where Burton wished Costner luck. Costner would never see Burton again, but credits Burton with partially contributing to his career.