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Thousands pay respects to Bernie Mac

August 17, 2008 12:20:47 PM PDT
Thousands of people remembered actor and comedian Bernie Mac at a public memorial service on Chicago's Far South Side Saturday. Mac passed away last week at the height of his popularity. The three surviving "Kings of Comedy" were there to salute the late Bernie Mac -- the Chicago based comic who anchored the award-winning feature film that supercharged their four careers.

"Every night we came to that microphone together but no matter how funny we were Bernie had something else for 'em," said Steve Harvey, comedian.

"He was a dynamic human being who lived a very big life and a great life," said Cedric The Entertainer, comedian

"I'm sad because I never got the chance to tell him how much I love him. But if you love someone you make sure you tell 'em, hear," said D.L. Hughley, comedian

Many of the estimated 6,000 to 7,000 people who attended the three-hour memorial arrived on busses. Most were Chicago fans who heard the younger Mac perform in local nightclubs and during the past 15 years saw his performances in over a dozen feature films and his namesake network television show.

"I knew he was one of the best comedians. We just all love Bernie," said Satire Henderson-Smith, Bernie Mac Fan.

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullogh, Mac was raised by a single mother who died of cancer when was 16. He graduated from Chicago Vocational High School and worked a number of low-skilled jobs for nearly two decades before hitting the big time.

Mayor Richard M. Daley noted how Mac never lost touch with his home city.

"He knew the streets, he knew the people and that's why he is king of comedy. He made us enjoy life," said Daley

Other speakers included Mac's television co-stars and film actor Samuel L. Jackson who said Mac rarely refused an autograph request.

"He never lost being that kid from Chicago that wanted to make everybody laugh and keep everybody happy," said Samuel L. Jackson, actor.

The 50-year-old south suburban resident died last week after a bout with pneumonia. During the past several years he suffered a chronic lung disease called sarcoidosis. He was married 30 years to his wife Rhonda.

"How he lived as a man beyond acting performances I think has captured the hearts of people," said Reverend Jackson.

We'll be hearing and seeing more of Bernie Mac in a feature film to be released later this year. Before he died, he finished performing his role in "Soul Man" -- a movie in which he co-stars with Samuel L. Jackson.

The memorial service also included readings of condolence letters from children, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, and Bernie Mac's beloved Chicago White Sox baseball team.

Bernie Mac's family has requested that memorial donations go to the Bernie Mac Foundation for research and education on the inflammatory lung disease sarcoidosis. Mac, who had the disease, started the foundation in 2007. For more information please visit www.berniemacfoundation.org.


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