R.I.P. Comedy Legend Paul Mooney

The writer, comedian and actor collaborated with the likes of Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle

BY Brock ThiessenPublished May 19, 2021

Comedy legend Paul Mooney has died. News has broke that the veteran American comedian passed away early this morning after suffering a heart attack. He was 79.

Mooney's death was announced by his cousin Rudy Ealy to CNN contributor Roland Martin, revealing that the comedian died at home in Oakland.

His passing was also announced on Mooney's official Twitter with the following tweet:
Born in 1941 in Shreveport, LA, Mooney moved to Oakland as a child and would eventually kick start a long career in stand-up in the 1960s following a stint as a circus ringmaster. He famously met up with Richard Pryor in the late '60s, and the pair soon struck up a long comedic partnership over the years.

Mooney and Pryor co-wrote multiple episodes of Sanford & Sons, as well as teamed up for the controversial and very short-lived The Richard Pryor Show in 1977. In 1975, Pryor also requested that NBC hire on Mooney as a writer for Saturday Night Live when he hosted the show.

Mooney is also credited with contributing material to Pryor's comedy albums …Is It Something I Said? (1976) and Live on the Sunset Strip (1983). He also co-wrote Pryor's autobiographical 1986 film Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling.

But Mooney also had a prolific career outside his work with Pryor. In addition writing on the sitcom Good Times, he was the head writer for the first season of the beloved '90s sketch show In Living Color, as well as had his own comedy specials, such as 1993's Race and 2010's It's the End of the World.

In addition, Mooney worked as an actor, appearing in such films as 1978's The Buddy Holly Story, 1981's Bustin' Loose, 1994's In the Army Now and 2000's Bamboozled.

Over the years, Mooney worked alongside fellow comedians such as Eddie Murphy, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Arsenio Hall. Mooney also wrote and acted on Dave Chappelle's Chappelle's Show, starring in such sketches as "Ask a Black Dude" and "Mooney at the Movies," as well as doing the character Negrodamus.

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