Bernie Mac, American stand-up comedian, Died at 50

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Dead, Bernard Jeffrey “Bernie” McCullough on August 9, 2008 at the age of 50, better known by his stage name Bernie Mac; he was an American stand-up comedian, actor and voice artist.

Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago, Illinois on October 5, 1957, he was raised on the city’s South Side by his single mother, Mary, who died of cancer when he was 16 years old in his sophomore year of high school.

Bernie Mac’s influences were from The Three Stooges and listening to stand-up comedians Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx.

Mac started as a stand-up comedian in Chicago’s Cotton Club.

After he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search at the age of 32, his popularity as a comedian began to grow. He played a small role in 1994’s House Party 3 as Uncle Vester.

He also had a short-lived talk show on HBO titled Midnight Mac. Later, Mac also acted in minor roles and got his big break as “Pastor Clever” in Ice Cube’s 1995 film Friday. Following that role, Mac had his first starring role as “Dollar Bill”, a silly, slick-talking club owner in The Players Club.

Mac was able to break from the traditional “black comedy” genre, having roles in the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven and becoming the new Bosley for the Charlie’s Angels sequel, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

In 2003, he gave an impressive performance in a supporting role as the villain “Gin Slagel, The Store Dick” in Bad Santa. He also starred in Guess Who?, a comedic remake of the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and made an appearance in the 2007 film Transformers as the car salesman “Bobby Bolivia”. In his later years, he hosted the reality television talent show Last Comic Standing.

He also served as the voice of Zuba, Alex the Lion’s long lost father in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. He co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in the 2008 musical comedy Soul Men as “Floyd Henderson”. His final film role was as “Jimmy Lunchbox,” a flamboyant children’s entertainer in the 2009 Disney film Old Dogs which was released a year after his death.

In 2001, the Fox network gave Mac his own semi-autobiographical sitcom called The Bernie Mac Show portraying a fictional version of himself. In the show, he suddenly becomes custodian of his sister’s three children after she enters rehab.

It was a success, in part because it allowed Mac to stay true to his stand-up comedy roots, breaking the fourth wall to communicate his thoughts to the audience. The show contained many parodies of events in Bernie’s actual life.

Bernie, who grew up on Chicago’s South Side, was a die-hard fan of the Chicago White Sox, and would often sneak a reference to his favourite team in his episodes, including enlisting then White Sox pitcher Jon Garland to make a guest cameo appearance.

However his biggest success was The Bernie Mac Show (2001), which debuted in 2001 to instant acclaim. However, soon after the series ended, Mac’s health took a turn for the worse. He developed sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease which causes inflammation in the lungs.

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