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After a decades-long career in comedy, Paul Mooney has died at the age of 79.
The comedian—known for his work as a writer for Richard Pryor, roles in films like Bamboozled and appearances as an actor and writer on Chappelle’s Show—suffered a heart attack at his home in Oakland, as first shared by journalist Roland Martin on Twitter. Mooney’s cousin, Rudy Ealy, called Martin to notify him of his passing. Mooney’s rep, Cassandra Williams, then confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter, adding that he died around 5:30 a.m. PT.
Mooney’s Twitter account shared a message thanking his fans for their longtime support shortly after the news broke.
“Thank you all from the bottom of all of our hearts,” the tweet read. “you’re all are the best!…… Mooney World .. The Godfather of Comedy – ONE MOON MANY STARS! .. To all in love with this great man.. many thanks.”
Paul had been “suffering with dementia for some time,” Martin shared, adding that paramedics attempted to save him following his heart attack on Wednesday morning.
Mooney appeared in multiple notable Chappelle skits such as “Mooney On Movies” and “Ask a Black Dude,” where he answered questions from people on the street with often witty clapbacks. He also appeared as the character “Negrodamus,” answering questions from mainly white people in a similar fashion. One of Mooney’s most notable movie roles was as musician Sam Cooke in the Oscar-winning 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story.
The comedian, who was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, is survived by his children Dwayne Mooney, Shane Mooney, Daryl Mooney and Symeon Mooney. A statement from the Mooney family is forthcoming, Williams told THR.