- Jason Philip Miller
actor and comedian, was born Paul Gadney in Shreveport, Louisiana, to George Gadney and LaVoya Ealy. When he was seven, his family relocated to Oakland, California, and there Mooney spent the remainder of his childhood. His father was not a stable figure in his life, and soon disappeared altogether. Throughout his youth, Mooney was closest to his grandmother, Aimay Ealy. It was she who gave him the nickname “Mooney,” though Mooney himself later claimed that she never bothered to explain what it meant. However, the name stuck, and, perhaps eager to relieve himself of his father's name, Mooney adopted it as his professional moniker. While in his teens, Mooney dropped out of school and left home to join the tiny Charles Gody Circus working in various roles until he was promoted to ringmaster According to Mooney himself this made him the first black ringmaster in the ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.