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The trail-blazing linchpin of a sprawling African-American family of comic entertainers, it was multi-talented writer/director/producer Keenen Ivory Wayans (born June 8, 1958, in New York City) who was the first to achieve national prominence by successfully creating, launching and hosting a landmark 1990s black-oriented comedy satire on Fox TV.
That, in turn, ignited and/or advanced the careers of not only his younger siblings Damon Wayans, Kim Wayans, Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans, but others of his extended family as well.
He felt Fox was overexposing the show, which would have reduced its monetary value once it turned to syndication.
He abruptly left in 1992 and, by next season's end, the rest of the Wayans clan had bailed as well.
After hooking up with comedian Eddie Murphy and earning writing credit on the star's raunchy live performance feature Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987), Keenen's visibility rose.
Partnering with actor/director Robert Townsend, he had his first film hit with Hollywood Shuffle (1987), a pointed satire highlighting the plight of the black actor in Hollywood.
Done in hilariously stereotypical fashion, one great bit had detective Townsend battling a blaxploitation villain named Jerry Curl (Wayans).
Most of the Wayans family members are known for being hilariously funny but one of the younger Wayans is taking a different route.
Keenen’s daughter, Nala Wayans, is making a name for herself in the entertainment industry and her father couldn’t be prouder.
Not only did the show introduce the public to a number of terrific black comedians, it made superstars out of brother Damon, as well as Jamie Foxx and Jim Carrey, the latter being one of the show's few white regulars.