Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bernie Mac Dies At The Age Of 50

Bernie Mac, who for the past 30 years made the public laugh with an over-sized comic persona in film, television and comedy clubs, has died of pneumonia, PEOPLE has confirmed. He was 50. "[He] passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital," his rep, Danica Smith, told PEOPLE. "No other details are available at this time. We ask that his family's privacy continues to be respected."

On August 1, Mac was admitted to a hospital at Northwestern Memorial hospital with pneumonia said his rep, adding that he was expected to recover, despite widespread rumors about the seriousness of his condition.

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago, Mac began his career as a stand-up comedian in the small comedy clubs of his native town. As a founding member of the Kings of Comedy comedy tour – the success of which spawned Spike Lee's 2000 concert movie The Original Kings of Comedy (also starring Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer) – Mac was able to spotlight what would become his rapid-fire delivery. This effectively launched him into the big time.

The Bernie Mac Show, which ran from 2001 to 2006, often poked fun of Mac's own life and proved a favorite of both critics and audiences – receiving a prestigious Peabody Award, as well as honors from the Television Critics Association (for best individual achievement in comedy).

He scored on the big screen, too. Among his appearances were those in the comedy Guess Who, the Ocean's 11 franchise; Bad Santa; Charlie's Angels; and Pride. This spring, Mac wrapped the upcoming film Soul Men, a comedy costarring Samuel L. Jackson about a former singing duo staging a comeback. He is also set to appear in Old Dogs with John Travolta, Robin Williams and Matt Dillon.

A man of many media, Mac published a 2001 collection of comic riffs, I Ain't Scared of You and a 2006 memoir, Maybe You Never Cry Again. In February 2005, Mac, then 47, revealed that for the previous two decades he had suffered from sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in organs such as the lungs or lymph nodes. "It has not altered or limited my lifestyle," he said at the time.

Since 1977, Mac was married to Rhonda McCullough, with whom he had a daughter, Je'Niece, born in 1978. A graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana (with a bachelors degree in psychology and a masters in mental health counseling), Je'Niece married in 2003 and also has a daughter, Jasmine. His family survives Mac.

Source: www.people.com

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