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Dave Chappelle and Viola Davis lead tributes to Paul Mooney after comedy legend dies aged 79

Tributes have been pouring in following the death of comedy icon Paul Mooney (Picture: Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Dave Chappelle, D. L. Hughley, and Viola Davis have led tributes following the death of comedian Paul Mooney.

The late star famously worked opposite Gary Busey in The Buddy Holly Story and worked with Chappelle on various sketches.

He died of a heart attack at his home in Oakland, California, after suffering from a heart attack aged 79.

Speaking to TMZ after the news broke, Chappelle stated: ‘[Today’s] a tough one. I want to shout out every comedian on earth, one of the best that ever did it passed away today… his legacy will live forever.

‘He did everything from the Richard Pryor show to the Chappelle show and he’s one of the first black people to ever in the writer’s guild. Paul Mooney will be sorely missed and wildly remembered… I’ll see to that’.

Oscar-winner Viola Davis wrote: ‘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.’

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.’

D.L. Hughley commented: ‘There a places Chef’s go to eat after THEY finish cooking! That’s how I felt when I went to a late #PaulMooney show after I finished giggin! Rest Well Lion! #TeamDl’.

Holly Robinson Peete wrote: ‘I’m so sorry to hear this. Few people made me laugh the way Paul Mooney did. He was a brilliant comedian and writer. You will be so missed. RIP Legend.’

Pam Grier commented: ‘Paul Mooney was always the funniest light in the room…Peace will not be still…Paul keep em laffing…wherever you are….Love PG.’

Mooney played singer Sam Cooke in the Buddy Holly Show in 1978, alongside the likes of Gary Busey, Don Stroud, and Charles Martin Smith.

He also starred as Junebug in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled in 2000.

Mooney’s acting credits didn’t end there, with the star also appearing in  Which Way Is Up?, Bustin’ Loose and Hollywood Shuffle. 

As well as being an actor and comedian, he was accomplished as a writer, meeting Richard Pryor early on in his career and writing for him.

He penned some of Pryor’s routines for Saturday Night Live, as well as some of his other material, and was head writer on The Richard Pryor Show.

Mooney is also credited with giving many other comedians, including Robin Williams their first break into show business.

Speaking about his comedy to Canada’s The Globe and Mail, Mooney said in 2014: ‘I’ve been doing this a very long time. If I have to describe my brand of comedy, we’ve got a problem here in Canada.’

Mooney went on to work closely with Chappelle, on sketches like Ask A Black Dude and Mooney at the Movies.

Paul Mooney famously helped many comedians get their break into the business (Picture: Dave Allocca/Starpix/Shutterstock)

Comic W Kamau Bell recalled: ‘I was lucky enough to open for Paul Mooney several times.

‘It was a master class. It was like a Malcolm X speech that had been punched up by Redd Foxx. & then in the middle of everything he’d go off on a tangent about Jane Fonda. He was 1 of the greats. Rest in Peace, Mr. Mooney.’

One fan wrote: ‘This man was an icon and legend. Rest in Power Paul Mooney!’ while another added: ‘RIP Paul Mooney. One of the most historic comedians of all time. The incomparable truth teller. A resume like no other.’

‘Rest In Peace to the OG Paul Mooney,’ another added.

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