Comedian Paul Mooney Has Passed Away At 79

Veteran standup comedian, actor, and writer Paul Mooney has died at the age of 79. Journalist Roland Martin was among those who confirmed the news that the entertainer born Paul Gladney suffered a heart attack in his Oakland, California home. The Daily Mail is among the publications that have reported the story.

Mooney, a native of Shreveport, Louisiana, has a career that dates back to the 1960s. He chose his alias based on the 1932 Scarface film, whose title character was played by actor Paul Muni. Although from the south, Mooney grew up in Oakland, California, and reportedly was a close friend of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton during his formative years. Inspired by Lenny Bruce, Paul took to comedy and moved to Los Angeles, California in his twenties.

“Game, Blouses:” The Real Story Behind Dave Chappelle’s Prince Basketball Skit

Mooney may be best remembered for his collaborative relationship with Richard Pryor. Mooney wrote material for Pryor, including Live On The Sunset Strip and Bicentennial N*gger album-specials. Paul was the head writer of The Richard Pryor Show and co-wrote JoJo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, a film based on aspects of Richard’s life. Mooney frequently appeared in Pryor works, including Bustin’ Loose and Brewster’s Millions. Mooney wrote Pryor’s legendary Saturday Night Live  “Word Association” segment with Chevy Chase. As the show’s guest during its debut season, Pryor insisted Mooney join the writing team for that week’s episode. He notably portrayed Sam Cooke in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story.

After writing for In Living Color in the 1990s (and inspiring the “Homey D. Clown” character) and appearing in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled, Mooney enjoyed a resurgence during the early 2000s. He appeared as himself in segments of Chappelle’s Show as well as playing the fortune teller “Negrodamus.” Paul’s dry, unapologetic sense of humor shined alongside a new generation of standup-turned-sketch comedians. From Redd Foxx to Richard Pryor, the Wayans family to Dave Chappelle, Mooney was a strong comedy thread, especially in the Black community.

The Cast Of In Living Color Reunites To Discuss Changing TV 25 Years Ago (Video)

Behind the scenes, Mooney announced in 2014 that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The husband and father continued to work, including standup shows and appearances in Meet The Blacks and more. Following Seinfeld alum Michael Richards’ racist outbursts against a heckler, Mooney became a public advocate against using the n-word. He decried the word in media, and vowed—to varying success—to remove it from his act. In 2019, Mooney was accused of sexual misconduct with Pryor’s son, Richard Jr., by a former bodyguard, Rashon Khan. The accusations also claimed that Richard Pryor, Sr. was aware and considering retaliation for the events. While Khan alleged that the incidents happened in 1980, Mooney publicly denied the accusations and pointed out his close personal and professional relationship with Richard Pryor into the late 1990s.

In a 2016 Vulture feature, actor/director Robert Townsend said of Mooney, “Paul didn’t care to be loved. He wanted to speak his mind. He taught a generation of comedians to be fearless.” Townsend cast Mooney in his film, The Hollywood Shuffle.

John Amos Reveals He Was Fired From Good Times For Trying To Make It More Authentic (Video)

Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Paul Mooney.

#BonusBeat: Paul Mooney is among the performers at the 1977 roast of Richard Pryor: