LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — One of the most popular sitcom stars of the 1970s was also a longtime Las Vegas resident. It was here that 30 years ago, comedian Redd Foxx found himself in trouble with Uncle Sam over back taxes.
“The IRS takes every penny I make,” Foxx told News 3 on November 29, 1989. “Every week. They go down and get the money.”
Foxx had been a nightclub performer in the 1950s and ’60s known for his blue humor and “party records.” Then in 1972, he hit the big time when he was cast in the lead role of the TV series “Sanford and Son.”
Foxx’s income increased dramatically, as did his spending. He owned a home in Las Vegas and was often seen around town playing poker and otherwise enjoying himself.
After the series was canceled, Foxx went back to standup comedy, with numerous lengthy engagements at the Hacienda (where Mandalay Bay is today). He made less money but still spent a lot, and the IRS charged that he was underpaying his income tax—and had been for years.Redd Foxx performs at the Hacienda in Las Vegas.
His home was raided by federal agents, who began packing up his belongings and removing them. This is when Foxx protested that his wages were already being garnished.
“That shows I’m trying to pay,” said the distraught comedian. “So why come and take my home and take my surroundings and my memorabilia? Stuff that I’ve gathered for years, they threw it on the ground and broke it.”
A couple of months later, much of his collection was put up for public auction, with samples arrayed on a display table.
“The IRS confiscated most of this jewelry from the entertainer’s safety deposit box,” said News 3’s Sarah Hoeverler. “$100,000 dollars’ worth, just on this auction preview table alone.”
The man running the sale professed to have been a fan of Foxx’s comedy, and that he was just doing his job.
“Most all of the avenues have been exhausted except coming in and paying what you owe,” said auctioneer Robert Darrow. “And so I think that’s where we’re at here. That’s my personal opinion.”
He pointed to a particularly eye-catching watch on the table.
“And it’s gold and it has it looks like it has a Lapis dial. A Lapis Lazuli dial. This is an extremely expensive piece. If you went to buy it in a jewelry store, it would cost more than, say, a diamond bezel Rolex.”
“The auctioneer says a number of doctors and lawyers have expressed an interest in picking up Foxx’s house because it’s a huge corner lot right on Eastern,” Hoeveler told News 3 viewers. “Obviously this is going to be one of the bigger ticket items at the auction, going a long way toward paying off Foxx’s debt.”
The entertainer fought the IRS in bankruptcy court and was ultimately allowed to keep his home and much of his collection, instead working out a new payment plan.
In 1991, Foxx got another shot a network comedy, starring in the series “The Royal Family” alongside Della Reese. But just one month after the show began airing, Foxx had a massive heart attack while rehearsing on the set and died.
Two years later, many of Foxx’s possessions were once again available to the public, this time as part of an estate sale held by the entertainer’s widow, Ka Ho Foxx.
“Sammy Davis Jr. and Redd Foxx,” she said, pointing to a framed photo for sale. “They’re both gone but there are some memories there.”
“Ka Ho Foxx says some of hers and Redd’s most treasured memories will never be for sale,” reported News 3’s Rikki Cheese while standing in front of a familiar image. “She plans to put items like this portrait from his much-loved ‘Sanford and Son’ days in a museum where they can be enjoyed by all of his fans forever.”Redd Foxx poses in a portrait from the sitcom “Sandford and Son.”
The portrait never made it to a museum, though. It was sold in another auction in 2016.
The home Redd Foxx owned for two decades on Eastern just north of Russell Road still exists, but today serves as a real estate agency office. The only clue to its celebrity past is the sign out front, which has the image of a red fox at its base.