We are sad to report that actor and comedy writer Paul Mooney passed away today from a heart attack. He was 79 years old.
Often referred to as “The Godfather of Comedy,” Mooney was most famous for his work with fellow comedian Richard Pryor. The two met in 1968 and remained close friends until Pryor’s death in 2005. Together they worked on material that often focused on racism when it was not popular to do so. “Everyone has finally caught up with me,” Mooney said to the Washington Post in 2012. “When I did it, it wasn’t popular. I was considered a trouble maker. Now they all caught up with me. Now it’s the popular thing. Hollywood is acting like that was the first time we heard this.”
During a 2010 Pop Matters interview, Mooney was also said to be “one of the first Black writers to break into television and films during the early 1970s.” He responded by saying that he was “like E.T.” and at the time of his rise that there “were no Black comedy writers.” He worked with major figures in Black comedy, including Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle.
Additionally was called on to rewrite scripts. During the conception of Fridays, a Saturday Night Live-style show on ABC from the early 1980s, Pryor called on Mooney to add touches to the original writing for the debut episode. “Richard would always have me rewrite s—,” Mooney said during the Pop Matters conversation. “That’s why the first [episode of Fridays] is so funny.” He then added that he did not have to solicit these kinds of gigs because his reputation as a writer proceeded him.
We rounded up some of the shows Paul Mooney wrote for over the course of his over 40-year career. Keep scrolling to see what all he worked on.