Bernie Mac, one of the "Original Kings of Comedy," has died from complications of pneumonia. Mac was only 50.
Mac appeared in the groundbreaking documentary film, The Original Kings of Comedy, which rebooted stand-up comedy. He had his own successful FOX sitcom, appeared in the three Oceans movies with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Co., and had filmed a pilot for a return to TV earlier this year.
News reports from his hometown Chicago Tribune, including a look at sarcoidosis, the disease Bernard Jeffrey McCullough suffered from (though his publicist claimed it did not factor into his death), and the recent scrape Mac got into at a fund-raiser in July for Barack Obama.
"When I started in comedy in the clubs in 1977, blacks couldn’t do
certain clubs — not because they were segregated. They just didn’t
want to put the [black comics] out there. In Los Angeles, the clubs
would have a black night. People would say, ‘Why don’t you come by and
do something?’ I would say, ‘I’m a comedian — don’t put a title on
me.’ Don’t limit yourself. How you start is how you finish," he told
the Tribune in 2007. "If you let people put tags on you, you’ll never
be able to remove them. You’ve got to make people respect you. Respect
is bigger than dollars and cents."
Mac grew up on the South Side, so here’s what the Sun-Times had to say.
Comedians and celebrities give their initial reactions (E! Online). From Chris Rock: "Bernie Mac was one of the best and funniest comedians to ever live,
but that was the second best thing he did. Bernie was one of the
greatest friends a person could have. Losing him is like losing 12
people because he absolutely filled up any room he was in. I’m gonna
miss the Mac Man." From Cedric the Entertainer: "It’s hard to put into words just how I feel and what a painful loss
this is. Bernie was a brother, a friend and one of the comic masters of
our time. Sharing the marquee with him during the phenomenon of the
Kings of Comedy tour bonded us like family, and created a unique moment
in comic history marking some of the most meaningful, memorable and fun
times of our lives. His comedic approach was his own brand and will
definitely stand the test of time. The level of his talent always
inspired me and other comedians to ‘bring their A-game.’ I promise you
that you never wanted to be the guy who had to follow Bernie’s set! As
a husband and father, he was THE MAN and my thoughts and prayers are
with his family. He will truly be missed, but so well remembered."
Here is an AP video obit:
And here are some other clips to remember Bernie Mac, starting with an NSFW video from Def Comedy Jam, which gave him his big break in 1992…
"I ain’t scared of you motherf@%&ers!":
From the Original Kings of Comedy: