Born: August 4, 1941
Birthplace: Shreveport, LA
Died: May 19, 2021
Zodiac Sign: Leo
Paul Gladney aka Paul Mooney, was an American comedian, writer, and actor. He is best known for his collaborations with Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Dave Chappelle, his writing for comedian Richard Pryor and the television series Sanford and Son, In Living Color and Chappelle's Show, as well as his acting role playing singer Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story (1978), Junebug in Spike Lee's satirical film Bamboozled (2000) and Negrodamus on Chappelle's Show.
Mooney became a ringmaster with the Gatti-Charles Circus. During his stint as ringmaster, he always found himself writing comedy and telling jokes, which later helped Mooney land his first professional work as a writer for Richard Pryor.
Mooney wrote some of Pryor's routines for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, co-wrote his material for the Live on the Sunset Strip, Bicentennial Nigger, and Is It Something I Said albums, and Pryor's film Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling. As the head writer for The Richard Pryor Show, he gave many young comics, such as Robin Williams, Sandra Bernhard, Marsha Warfield, John Witherspoon, and Tim Reid, their first break into show business.
Mooney also wrote for Redd Foxx's Sanford and Son and Good Times, acted in several cult classics including the Richard Pryor comedy films Which Way Is Up?, Bustin' Loose, and the cult satirical comedy Hollywood Shuffle, and portrayed singer/songwriter Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story.
He was the head writer for the first year of Fox's In Living Color, inspiring the character Homey D. Clown, played by Damon Wayans. Mooney later went on to play Wayans' father in the Spike Lee film Bamboozled as the comedian Junebug.
Mooney initially appeared in the sketches "Ask a Black Dude" and "Mooney at the Movies" on Comedy Central's Chappelle's Show. He later appeared as Negrodamus, an African American version of Nostradamus. As Negrodamus, Mooney ad-libbed the "answers to life's most unsolvable mysteries" such as "Why do white people love Wayne Brady?" (Answer: "Because Wayne Brady makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X.") Mooney was planning to reprise his role as Negrodamus in the third season of the Chappelle's Show, before Dave Chappelle left the show due to creative and contractual differences.
In 2006, Mooney hosted the BET tribute to Black History Month titled 25 Most @#%! Moments in Black History. In this show, he narrated some of the most shameful incidents involving African Americans since 1980. The top 25 moments included incidents involving Marion Barry, Terrell Owens, Wilson Goode, Michael Jackson, Flavor Flav, Whitney Houston, and Tupac Shakur.
In 2007, Mooney released his first book, the memoir Black Is the New White.
In November 2014, Paul's brother announced that Mooney had prostate cancer. Mooney continued to tour, and perform his stand-up comedy act.
On May 19, 2021, Mooney died of a heart attack at his home in Oakland, California, at the age of 79.