Paul Mooney, the sharp-tongued comic and actor best known for writing for fellow comedy legend Richard Pryor and, in later years, his appearances on “Chappelle’s Show,” has died. He was 79.
Mooney died Wednesday morning at his Oakland, California, home, his publicist, Cassandra Williams, confirmed.
“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,” the family posted on Mooney’s Twitter account Wednesday morning.
Known as the “godfather of comedy,” Mooney was born Paul Gladney in Shreveport, Louisiana. Mostly flying under the radar as a writer for the smash-hit television series “Sanford and Son,” starring legendary comedian Redd Foxx, and “Good Times,” starring John Amos and comedian Jimmie “JJ” Walker, Money wrote some of Pryor’s most memorable routines.
The outspoken Mooney co-wrote several of Pryor’s stand-up specials and was the head writer and cast member of “The Richard Pryor Show,” a short-lived variety program, in the late 1970s.
A genius at stand-up comedy, Mooney was the opening act for Eddie Murphy’s 1987 stand-up feature, “Raw,” the blockbuster follow-up to Murphy’s “Delirious.”
He later teamed with the Wayans family to write episodes of the groundbreaking variety show “In Living Color.”
“ Paul Mooney. A comedy giant. I recall listening to his RACE album in college and how formative it was,” filmmaker Ava Duvernay tweeted. “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,” Duvernay concluded.
Mooney’s acting roles included playing singer Sam Cooke in “The Buddy Holly Story” in 1978 and Junebug in Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled” in 2000.
He also became a regular on the wildly popular “Chappelle’s Show” in the early 2000s, starring in the popular sketches “Ask a Black Dude” and “Negrodamus.”