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Comedic Legend Paul Mooney Passes Away at the Age of 79

Gracious Egedegbe
May 20, 2021
08:10 A.M.
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After more than five decades of a sterling Hollywood career, comedy icon Paul Mooney has passed on. Mooney died in his home in California.


Paul Mooney, who defined comedy through his unique writing and acting stints, has passed on. He died in his home in Oakland, California after suffering a heart attack. 

Fans learned of his demise on Twitter when his friend, Roland Martin, shared the sad news. Martin shared that Mooney's cousin, Rudy Ealy, broke the news to him. The late star was 79 years old.

Paul Mooney at a promotional event for Charlie Murphy to promote his book The Making of a Stand Up Guy in December 2009. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images


Mooney was famously dubbed the "godfather of modern Black comedy," and true to this title, the comic star was efficient and talented. He was not quite famous on TV, but his works behind the scenes cannot be overemphasized.

Most notable of all was his long-running collaboration with the late legendary comedian Richard Pryor. Mooney wrote most of Pryor's scripts through the star's career. 

He also wrote for several award-winning TV projects like "In Living Color," "Sanford and Sons," "Saturday Night Live," and "Chappelle's Show." On "Chappelle's Show," fans were privy to his unpredictable sense of humor.

Richard Pryor and Paul Mooney attending the West Hollywood premiere of "Life" in April 1999. | Photo: Getty Images


The star born in Louisiana once made it known that he got his sense of humor from his grandmother who slept with a hammer and was very funny. 

In 1993, he started his solo comic performance with "Race."  Through this comic work, the actor and social critic spoke uninhibitedly about racism, using his humor to pass his message.  Mooney used his entertaining tool to expose societal ills, mostly on racism.


With Pryor, he delivered his message perfectly; the pair were good friends and worked together from 1968 to 2005 when Pryor passed on.  

In a 2007 memoir, Mooney chronicled his decades-long friendship and successful stint with Pryor. He made it known that they were opposites, but that uniqueness was the driving force behind their passion for comedy. 


Stars like Viola Davis called him a funny and poignant act. The actress relayed that she felt lucky to be one of those who witnessed his greatness during his lifetime. 

Ava DuVernay could not help but be in awe of how much freedom and fearlessness Mooney exuded. She once shared that Mooney was all about comedy, but the intricate part of it all was the freedom with which he spoke.