Paul Mooney Is Dead at 79 — What Happened to the 'Chappelle's Show' Comedian?

What was Paul Mooney's cause of death? The actor and comedian was known for roles in 'The Buddy Holly Story,' 'Bamboozled,' and more.

Michelle Stein - Author

May 19 2021, Published 3:27 p.m. ET

Paul Mooney
Source: Getty Images

On May 19, 2021, Paul Mooney (born Paul Gladney) died at age 79 at his home in Oakland, Calif., a representative for the actor, Cassandra Williams, told The Hollywood Reporter. The actor/comedian was famous for his roles in Chappelle's Show, The Buddy Holly Story, Bamboozled, among others.

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His daughter, Spring Mooney, confirmed the sad news via Twitter

“Give me a moment,” Spring tweeted on Wednesday morning. “My best friend just died and my world is forever SHOOK !!! I really can’t put into words right now my feelings .. know that I LOVE THIS MAN AND I AM BROKEN.”

paul mooney children
Source: Twitter
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What was Paul Mooney's cause of death?

According to multiple reports, Paul Mooney's death was a sudden one: He reportedly died from a heart attack in his home.

"Comedic legend Paul Mooney has passed away," journalist Roland Martin tweeted on May 19. "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. We will pay tribute to him tonight on #RolandMartinUnfiltered."

paul mooney
Source: Getty Images
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Paul Mooney is survived by four children.

Paul married Yvonne Mooney in 1973; however, they later divorced. (Paul was most recently romantically linked to Shaka Khan in 2018.) Paul and Yvonne share four children: son, Shane; twin sons, Dwayne and Daryl; and daughter, Spring. 

Paul had a fifth child, a son named Symeon— however, he was killed in 2001 in what was ruled as a homicide.

His twin sons Dwayne and Darryl followed in their father's footsteps in comedy.

In a 2019 tweet, Paul wrote: “My best friends are my children … all four of them.”

paul mooney kids
Source: Twitter
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Fellow entertainment industry folks and fans alike took to social media to share touching tributes to Paul following the news of his death.

Director Ava DuVernay tweeted, "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."

Source: Twitter
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Meanwhile, actress Viola Davis took to Twitter, writing, "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," alongside heart emojis.

Source: Twitter
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Comedian Bill Burr tweeted, "R.I.P.  to the absolute master! - Paul Mooney.  I learned so much from you."

Source: Twitter

Although he started off writing for comedian Richard Pryor, Paul is best known for playing Sam Cooke opposite Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story. He was also known for playing Junebug in the 2000 comedy Bamboozled. Paul went on to write for Fox’s “In Living Color" and guest-starred in Chappelle's Show, among countless other projects and stand-up comedy performances.

Our thoughts are with Paul Mooney's family, friends, and fans during this difficult time.

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