Writer and comedian Paul Mooney has been well-known in the industry for decades, but his name had an unexpected resurgence in the media after Richard Pryor‘s former bodyguard, Rashon Kahn, posted a damning interview with Comedy Hype on YouTube. In the shocking interview, Kahn, who also credits himself for being Pryor’s spiritual advisor, accuses Mooney of having a sexual relationship with Richard Pryor Jr.
This affair allegedly made Pryor so mad, he told Kahn that he would offer a $1 million reward to whomever killed Mooney. Conspiracy theories aside, longtime fans of Mooney were shocked to learn that Mooney may be gay. While Pryor passed away at age 65 from a heart attack in 2005, Mooney continues to perform stand-up at age 78. His publicist Cassandra Williams told TMZ that “there is no validity it Kahn’s statement as it relates to Mr. Mooney.”
Mooney, who was most recently romantically linked to singer Chaka Khan, and has four children from his first marriage, has been dodging rumors of being gay for decades, and keeps his focus on family and comedy.
Here’s what you need to know about Paul Mooney….
1. His Stage Name Comes from ‘Scarface’
Born Paul Gladney on August 4, 1941, to parents George Gladney and LaVoya Ealy, his mother chose to call her son “Mooney” after the original Scarface actor Paul Muni. While Mooney was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, he moved to Oakland, California when he was seven years old, and was raised by his grandmother, Aimay Ealy.
The comedian write about his upbringing and road to success in the comedy world in his memoir, Black is the New White, which was released in 2010. While he’s had numerous controversial moments in his career, most notably his “N**** Wake Up Call Award” segment during the 2005 BET Awards which has to be mostly edited out before the televised broadcast, Mooney continues to be beloved comedian by his peers and fans.
2. Mooney was a Writer on ‘The Richard Pryor Show’
Before Mooney started working for Richard Pryor, who also became one of his closest friends, he was writer on the show Sanford and Son. In 1975, he helped write Pryor’s Saturday Night Live episode, and continued to work with the comedian on for his stand-up show, The Richard Pryor Special, which included appearances by Maya Angelou, William Guest, Glynn Turman, and John Belushi.
In 1977, Mooney was staffed on The Richard Pryor Show, but the TV series only lasted four episode. The two continued to work together for Richard Pryor: Live in Concert, Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, Richard Pryor: Here and Now, the film JoJo Dancer and Your Life Is Calling. Mooney was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Children’s Series for his work on 1984′ Pryor’s Place. As a writer, he’s also worked on the shows In Living Color and Roseanne.
3. Mooney Guest-Starred on ‘Chappelle’s Show’
While much of Mooney’s work is done behind the camera, he has appeared numerous shows and movies, and is perhaps best known for his work on Chappelle’s Show. Even though he only appeared in three episodes of Dave Chappelle’s insanely popular sketch comedy series, his character of Negrodamus won’t soon be forgotten.
As an actor, he headlined his own TV series, Judge Mooney, in 2004, and as guest-starred on The Larry Sanders Show, DTLA and the Pauly Shore movie, In the Army Now.
4. Mooney Is a Grammy Nominated Comedian
In 1993, Mooney was nominated for Grammy for his comedy album, Race. The comedian who’s known for his comments on racial lines in American has also released numerous DVD specials of his stand-up, including Paul Mooney: Piece of My Mind, Paul Mooney: Know Your History – Jesus Was Black… So Was Cleopatra, and Paul Mooney’s Analyzing White America.
5. Mooney Has Four Children
When Mooney married to wife Yvonne Mooney in 1973, and together they share four children, Dwayne, Daryl, Spring and Shane Mooney. Mooney had a fifth child, a son named Symeon, however, he was tragically murdered in 2001. His twin sons Dwayne and Darryl followed have followed in his comedian footsteps.
After they divorced, Paul dated girlfriend Stacey J, and most recently, was in a relationship 10-time Grammy Award winning singer Chaka Khan. However, rumors the Mooney is gay continue to persist, especially after Rashon’s Kahn’s interview with Comedy Hype. Much the hype around Mooney’s sexuality seems to stem from a comedy roast led by Richard Pryor, in which he called out Mooney as being gay in one of his jokes.