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Paul Mooney And Dick Gregory In Concert

Source: Johnny Nunez / Getty

Paul Mooney, one of the premier stand-up comedians and comedy writers of his time, has reportedly died according to still-developing reports. According to the account of a family member, Mooney passed away from a heart attack in his Oakland home this morning (May 19).

Mooney, real name Paul Gladney, was born on August 4, 1941, in Shreveport, La., but was raised primarily in Oakland, Calif. His stage name is based on the name of the original Scarface actor from the 1930s, Paul Muni.

According to a tweet from journalist Roland Martin, Mooney’s cousin reached out via a phone call and informed Martin of the unfortunate news.

“Comedic legend Paul Mooney has passed away. His cousin, Rudy Ealy, just called me from Paul’s phone and said he passed away two hours ago after suffering a heart attack at his home in Oakland. He was 79,” Martin tweeted.

Mooney is credited as one of the lead writers for the late Richard Pryor, penning some of his popular routines and sets. He also has several credits in hit television sitcoms as well. Among Mooney’s other credits, he was the lead writer for The Richard Pryor Show and gave opportunities for other comics such as Tim Reid, Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, John Witherspoon, Marsha Warfield, and more.

As a member of the writing staff for the hit sketch series In Living Color, Mooney was the head writer for the show in its first year, helping to create Homey D. Clown, played by Damon Wayans. Mooney was also a writer for Sanford and Son and Good Times as well.

Mooney’s comedic style was conversational and, at times, controversial, especially when regarding issues of race. His deadpan delivery, usually followed by a million-megawatt smile and laugh, sometimes softened the blows he delivered at the expense of white people in the audience at his shows.

Mooney also made a scene-stealing appearance as “Negrodamus” on Dave Chappelle’s hit series Chappelle’s Show and was planning to reprise the role in the unaired third season ahead of Chappelle ending production.

In November 2014, Mooney was revealed to be battling prostate cancer but the depths of his condition were never shared. Mooney also endured some harsh accusations from a bodyguard for Pryor that Mooney molested the late comedian’s son, Richard Pryor Jr., although he never mentioned Mooney by name.

An official statement from the family has yet to emerge but Martin’s tweet suggests this news came directly from the family.

Reaction to the news is cropping up on Twitter and we’ll update this post through the day as more details emerge.

UPDATE: The family of Paul Mooney is currently operating Mooney’s social media accounts and has too announced the passing as being official. A pinned tweet to Mooney’s Twitter account can be seen below.

Photo: Getty

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