Actor and comedian Bernie Mac dies at age 50

August 10, 2008 7:53:42 AM PDT
Actor and comedian Bernie Mac has died at the age of 50 of complications from pneumonia at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial hospital.He had been in the hospital for more than a week.

Mac was a Chicago native and grew up on the city's South Side. Despite his fame, he stayed in the area, living with his family in the south suburbs.

Bernie Mac's credits include the movie Ocean's 11 and its sequels, his leading role in Mr. 3000, and his own critically acclaimed television venture, 'The Bernie Mac Show.'

People in Mac's home city of Chicago and in the entertainment world reacted with sadness after learning of the comedian's death. Mac is best known for drawing on his tough experiences and challenging childhood in the city as material for his comedy, and it was comedy that had mainstream appeal and plenty of inspiration.

Bernie Mac had a special comedic talent for blending his 'every man' style with just enough of a touch of reality. His performances made audiences laugh, and they made him a star.

Chicago actress Lisa Raye worked with Mac and shared some thoughts about him with ABC7 Chicago.

"I definitely feel the loss, and not just as an actor, and not just a fellow Chicago friend, but also as a Chicagoan," Raye said.

Mac died Saturday morning from complications due to pneumonia. He had suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease. It was said his condition went into remission in 2005, although his publicist said his recent hospitalization was not related to the disease.

At Saturday's Bud Billiken Parade on Chicago's South Side, WVON Talk Show Host Cliff Kelly asked for a moment of silence. Many people in Chicago first learned of Bernie Mac's death just as the parade was set to start. Participants said Saturday's event would not only honor Mac, but would also celebrate his rise from meager means of an impoverished household to Hollywood stardom.

"Such a loss for everybody. A wonderful entertainer," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said.

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough and raised on Chicago's South Side, the man later known on stage as Bernie Mac was raised by a single mother who died of cancer when he was age 16. Despite his share of trials and adversity, Mac worked his way up the entertainment ladder by doing stand-up comedy as a child and even telling jokes on the subway for a spare change.

Soon after he began to appear in a number of small movie roles and was one The Original Kings of Comedy, along with fellow stand-up comedian and friend Steve Harvey.

"Everybody's going to talk about the jokes he told and the TV shows he had, but the real deal of it is that Bernie Mac was a great family man," Harvey said.

Bernie Mac went on to star with Brad Pitt and George Clooney in 'blockbuster' films like Ocean's Eleven and their sequel. He also had starring roles in Bad Santa, Transformers, and Charlie's Angels, Full Throttle.

However, Mac's fans say they will always remember him for his role as reluctant father-figure on his own television show 'The Bernie Mac Show.'

"Rest in peace King of Comedy Bernie Mac," said fan DeShamah English.

Bernie Mac's television show won a Peabody Award in 2002. In acknowledgement of his career, Bernie Mac was also nominated for several Grammy, Emmy and Golden Globe awards. He also won an NAACP Image award.

Mac is survived by his wife of over 30 years, his daughter and a granddaughter.

Mac's publicist says a public memorial will be held next Saturday at noon at the House of Hope Church on the Far South Side.


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