Paul Mooney, a celebrated comedian and actor who wrote material for some of the greatest joke-tellers of all time, has died. He suffered a heart attack at his home in California before dying on Wednesday.
Roland Martin broke the news late Wednesday morning.
While Mooney’s career dates back decades and includes working with the likes of Richard Pryor, he had enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent years. That was thanks in no small part to his collaborations with fellow comedian Dave Chappelle, who featured Mooney on his eponymous sketch comedy show, “Chappelle Show.”
Aside from his seminal work as a comedian whose material was replete with messages of social justice and equality, Mooney was also known as a successful actor with numerous appearances on and credit for the big and small screens.
According to IMDB, Mooney created the character Homey That Clown from “In Living Color” and wrote stand-up material for Redd Foxx and Jimmy Walker.
He once compared Pryor and Chappelle for their shared level of integrity.
“Dave’s a lot like Richard [Pryor]. He’s an artist first, everything else is second. They offered him $50 million, but the money didn’t mean anything,” Mooney said. “Dave knew money was an illusion. You can’t take it with you. You’ve never seen a Brink’s truck following a hearse, and you never will.”
Mooney’s movie credits include memorable roles in “The Buddy Holly Story” and Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled.”
Mooney announced in 2019 that he would be stepping away from the comedy stage for “health reasons.” The move came shortly after he was accused in a tell-all book of sexually assaulted Richard Pryor’s son. Mooney denied the claims.
Soon afterward, Mooney’s sons, Dwayne and Daryl Mooney, addressed the allegations that their dad molested Pryor Jr. and rumors that their dad was gay.
Richard Pryor Jr. has alluded to a relationship with Mooney in a fast street interview with TMZ. He said, “Whatever happened in my life, it happened when I was young. Way before the ’80s.” When the cameraperson asked if his alleged relationship with Mooney was consensual, Pryor replied, “How can any relationship be consensual if I was a teenager?” He refused to elaborate on the subject after this.
On whether Mooney was gay, his son, Daryl responded, “They used to say a whole lot of folks was gay. That’s Hollywood. There’s a whole lot of folks in Hollywood who are gay, there’s a whole lot of folks in Hollywood that you think are gay that are not gay.”
When asked what the response would be if Paul Mooney turned out to be gay, Dwayne said, “I don’t think it would be a big deal.” Daryl added, “Does it matter if he’s bisexual? If it matters that he’s bisexual that means you’re homophobic.” You can watch the full video below.
This story will be updated.