Comedian and actor Paul Mooney has died from a heart attack, aged 79.
The news was announced by TMZ to whom Mooney’s family confirmed he had died at his home in Oakland.
Paramedics were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive the comedian, who had reportedly been suffering from dementia over the past few years.
Mooney is best known for his working relationship with Richard Pryor for whom he regularly wrote throughout his career. Helping him secure the role of head writer of The Richard Pryor Show was his experience cracking jokes during his job as a ringmster with the Gatti-Charles Circus.
He also wrote some of Pryor’s jokes during the comedian’s regular appearances on Saturday Night Live. Pryor died of a heart attack in 2005.
Mooney’s film roles include singer Sam Cooke in The Buddy Holly Story (1978) and Junebug in Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled (2000).
He also made appearances on Chappelle’s Show throughout its run, and was set to return before host Dave Chapelle left the show because of stress.
In 2014, Mooney was diagnosed with prostate cancer, but continued to perform standup routines on tour.
Five years later, Richard Pryor’s ex-bodyguard, Rashon Khan, alleged that Mooney had molested Pryor’s son when he was a child.
In the same interview with Comedy Hype, he claimed that Pryor once expressed a wish to have Mooney killed in a murder-for-hire plot due to the alleged incident. Pryor’s widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor, corroborated the claims.
Pryor Jr has since confirmed he was raped, but has never mentioned Mooney by name.