August 09, 2008

TV/Film Comedy King Bernie Mac Dies at 50

Primetime Emmy nominee suffered lung
disease, pneumonia complications

Bernie Mac

Award-winning comedic actor Bernie Mac passed away Saturday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, due to complications of pneumonia. He was 50 years old.

Mac was admitted to the hospital July 24, where he remained in intensive care for more than two weeks.

Mac had suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in one's organ, but had said in 2005 that the condition was in remission.

The Chicago native, born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough on Oct. 5, 1957, rose from the city's South Side community to Hollywood glory following a memorable television debut on HBO's long-running Def Comedy Jam stand-up series in 1992.

This pivotal break led to some memorable supporting turns in theatricals, such Ice Cube-Chris Tucker cult favorite Friday, and a recurring role as "Uncle Bernie" on television series Moesha.

In 2000, the success of ensemble comedy concert tour and film, The Original Kings of Comedy led to Mac landing his own show on FOX.

The raucous Original Kings film—featuring Mac, along with Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and D.L. Hughley—documented what had become the highest-grossing comedy tour in history. Shot on a $3 million budget reportedly, the film alone grossed more than $38 million and launched endless spin-off comedy tours and films, such as the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, The Original Queens of Comedy and The Original Latin Kings of Comedy.

Mac's Original Kings rant about his sister's kids ultimately formed the basis of widely acclaimed series The Bernie Mac Show, which aired on FOX from 2001 through 2006 and remains a syndication staple.

Mac received two Primetime Emmy nominations for The Bernie Mac Show, in 2002 and again in 2003, both in the the category of Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

Plus, he was recognized with more industry honors—winning a Television Critics Association Award and four NAACP Image Awards, among several nominations from the Golden Globes, MTV Movie Awards, Kids' Choice Awards and more. Kudos were rolling in not only for his television work with the Mac Show, but also for his increasing film roles.

Mac's film work includes the summer blockbusters Transformers, Ocean's Thirteen (following, of course, Ocean's Eleven and Ocean's Twelve), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Head of State and more. Soul Men, with Samuel L. Jackson, is scheduled for 2008 and Old Dogs, with Robin Williams, is set for 2009.

Bernie Mac is survived by his wife of 30 years, Rhonda McCullough, their daughter, Je'Niece, a son-in-law and a granddaughter.

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