The actor and comedian most famous for his appearances on Chappelle’s Show and Bamboozled, Paul Mooney, has died at 79 of a heart attack, according to CNN. Cassandra Williams, a representative for Mooney, broke the news to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.
The Louisiana-born comedian began his career as a writer for comedian Richard Pryor (See No Evil, Hear No Evil), and went on to write for the popular 1990s comedy sketch In Living Color. He also frequently appeared in skits on Dave Chappelle’s (Sticks & Stones) Comedy Central show. Once news of the actor’s death broke, fellow creators took to social media to mourn. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma) wrote on Twitter, “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.”
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.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) May 19, 2021
Other artists such as actor Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder), writer Saeed Jones, and actor Debbie Allen (Grey’s Anatomy) gave their condolences via social media in the past several hours.
Awww…. RIP comedy legend Paul Mooney! You were both funny and poignant. So happy to have witnessed your genius live. Rest well!!! Pour down some laughter here. We need it 💗💗💗 pic.twitter.com/cr6MqY3UXA
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 19, 2021
I wrote a poem for Paul Mooney. Rest in power, you funny motherfucker. pic.twitter.com/uJqEv1cm5g
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) May 19, 2021
#PaulMooney, the comedic genius that fueled Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy made his transition to a holy place this morning. We will miss you, Homie. We will forever speak your name. ❤️🙏🏼😊😢 pic.twitter.com/IrNADkC2GO
— Debbie Allen (@msdebbieallen) May 19, 2021
Mooney is survived by his daughter, Spring Mooney, who took to Twitter to say that her “best friend” had died following his death in Oakland, California.