Paul Mooney has died after suffering a heart attack, his publicist Cassandra Williams confirmed to UrbanHollywood411. The actor and comedian passed away at 5:30 a.m. Wednesday in Oakland, Williams said. He was 79.
Mooney’s prolific career spanned from working as a writer for Richard Pryor to appearing in sketches and writing for Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show. Mooney also wrote for the iconic series Good Times and Sanford and Son. His most recent film role was in the 2016 comedy Meet the Blacks.
He was known for his biting standup routines about race and the Black experience. The veteran comic appeared many times at The Laugh Factory in Los Angeles and had audiences in stitches.
When news of his passing spread, Dave Chappelle told TMZ, “It’s a tough one. I want to shout out to every comedian on earth — one of the best that ever did it passed away today. His legacy will live forever.”
“He’s one of the first Black people that was ever in the Writer’s Guild. Paul Mooney will be sorely missed and wildly remembered. I’ll see to that,” Chappelle added in a video clip.
“RIP Legend” began trending on Twitter shortly after Mooney’s death, and celebrities and fans shared memories of the comedian.
Holly Robinson Peete tweeted: “I’m so sorry to hear this. Few people made me laugh the way Paul Mooney did. He was a brilliant comedian and writer. You will be so missed. RIP Legend.”
Ava DuVernay tweeted: “Paul Mooney. A comedy giant. I recall listening to his RACE album in college and how formative it was. Yeah, the jokes. But more so, the freedom. He spoke freely and fearlessly about feelings and experiences others found difficult to express. May he be truly free now. Rest, sir.”
Actors, comedians and producers Kenny Lucas and Keith Lucas, collectively referred to as The Lucas Brothers, simply tweeted: “Rest easy legend.”
Mooney’s official Twitter account thanked fans for their condolences: “Thank you all from the bottom of all of our hearts …you all are the best!…… Mooney World .. The Godfather of Comedy – ONE MOON MANY STARS! To all in love with this great man…many thanks.”
Thank you all from the bottom of all of our hearts …you’re all are the best!…… Mooney World .. The Godfather of Comedy – ONE MOON MANY STARS! .. To all in love with this great man.. many thanks??
— Paul Mooney -Legacy team (@PaulEalyMooney) May 19, 2021
Mooney’s first big break was as a professional writer for Pryor, including writing for his comedy specials and films. He was also the head writer for The Richard Pryor Show.
His breakthrough role in acting came in 1978, when he played singer Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story.
In 2014, Mooney published a memoir titled “Black Is the New White.” He was born in 1941 in Shreveport, Louisiana before moving to Oakland at the age of seven.