Urban Legend: Richard Pryor as Gus Gorman in ‘Superman III’

Gus Gorman_SupermanIIISuperman III character Gus Gorman (portrayed to perfection by late comedy icon Richard Pryor) is a legend in urban culture.

Bumbling goof August “Gus” Gorman must have walked under too many ladders, regularly opened umbrella indoors, and frequented the running path of black cats; luck simply wasn’t on his side. What he did have going for him was a genius-level understanding of computer programming. After financial desperation provoked him to hack his way to substantially increased pay, his embezzlement caught the attention of his diabolical boss, Ross Webster, who longed for economic world domination. Threatened with jail or servitude, Gus agreed to technically power Webster’s corrupt and destructive schemes, which caught the attention of Superman (portrayed by the late Christopher Reeve).

Gus learned to manipulate the rarest properties of Kryptonite, Superman’s only known weakness. Its use on The Man of Steel transforms him into the evil Bizarro. Eventually fed up with Webster’s wrong-doings and mistreatment, Gus aided a remedied Superman in defeating him and saving the world.

DC Comics’ Superman was a big box office draw. The 1983 sequel, Superman III, had all the makings of another hit. Directed by Richard Lester (Superman II, The Three Musketeers), written by David Newman (Bonnie and Clyde, Bad Company) and Leslie Newman (Superman, Superman II), and co-starring Oscar-nominated acting legend Robert Vaughn as the villainous Ross Webster with Pryor as Gorman, the third film in the series looked like a winner on paper. Critics, however, panned the movie for its lighter comedic tone, specifically bashing Pryor for being too silly. Diehard comic readers and Superman film buffs were also turned off while casual movie watchers enjoyed it, and Pryor, overall. Many found a black computer wizard, criminal or not, to be groundbreaking.

Financially, Superman III was far less lucrative than its predecessors. Pryor came out of it richer, though. After agreeing to play Gorman he signed a $40 million, five-year deal with Columbia Pictures. The next film from this contract was the semi-autographical favorite, Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling.

—Mr. Joe Walker

Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.

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