Legendary actor and well-known comedian Paul Mooney has passed away. On Wednesday, Mooney’s rep Cassandra Williams said that the 79-year-old died at his Oakland, California home around 5:30 a.m. local time.
Per the New York Daily News‘ reporting, Mooney died from a heart attack he suffered early in the morning. Afterward, his official Twitter account released a statement: “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.”
Born Paul Gladney in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1941, he and his family later moved to Oakland when Mooney was still a child. He later got his stage name from the actor Paul Muni from the original Scarface.
His entertainment career began when he worked as a ringmaster for the Gatti-Charles Circus and was soon noticed by legendary comedian Richard Pryor, who hired him as a writer.
He co-wrote some of Pryor’s best stand-up comedy material and worked with him on films and TV. He later became the head writer for “The Richard Pryor Show,” where he had a massive part in giving stars like Robin Williams their big breaks.
Mooney also saw success when he worked alongside Dave Chappelle on the “Chappelle’s Show,” where he appeared on screen and behind the camera.
He later added author to his resume when he wrote his 2009 book: Black Is the New White. The book revealed details about his partnership with Pryor from their first meeting until 2005 when Pryor passed away.
Fans Worldwide Mourn The Lose Of Paul Mooney
After the news broke of Mooney’s death, fans worldwide began mourning on social media. Tributes to Mooney from the entertainment community poured in during the hours following the announcement.
Director Ava DuVernay wrote: “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.”
“RIP comedy legend Paul Mooney! You were both funny and poignant. So happy to have witnessed your genius live,” Viola Davis wrote in a tweet. “Rest well!!! Pour down some laughter here. We need it,” she added.
Several of his best stand-up comedy routines are streaming now on Amazon Prime. “Chappelle’s Show” and Richard Pryor: Live in Concert are both streaming now on Netflix.