Comedian Bernie Mac Dead At 50

posted August 09, 2008 10:18:44 AM CDT | 153 comments

Emmy, Golden Globe, and Grammy-nominated actor and comedian Bernie Mac died today (August 9) at the age of 50, CNN.com reports.

"Actor/comedian Bernie Mac passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital," said his publicist, Danica Smith, in a statement from Los Angeles, California.

His publicist said no other details were available, and that his family's privacy be respected. She also revelaed that the pneumonia was not related to the comedian's sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease; the condition apparently went into remission in 2005.

Mac's comedy career at age eight, with a standup performance at a church dinner. Eventually, he took his act to comedy clubs in Chicago at age 20, in 1977.

He began his film career with a small role in Damon Wayans' Mo' Money in 1992. Since then, he has appeared in Spike Lee's 1996 drama Get on the Bus, the Ocean's Eleven series, and numerous other films.

Bernie Mac also had a self-titled television show, which aired more than 100 episodes from 2001 to 2006. "The Bernie Mac Show," which told the story of a man raising his sister's three children, won a Peabody Award in 2002. The judges wrote that the sitcom transcended "race and class while lifting viewers with laughter, compassion -- and cool."

"But television handcuffs you, man," said Mac in 2001 Associated Press interview. "Now everyone telling me what I CAN'T do, what I CAN say, what I SHOULD do, and asking, 'Are blacks gonna be mad at you? Are whites gonna accept you?"'

Mac was also a part of the critically acclaimed comedy album and movie The Original Kings of Comedy, in which he co-starred with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric The Entertainer. The album garnered a Grammy nomination for best comedy album in 2001.

In 2007 during an interview on CBS' "Late Show" with Dave Letterman, Mac revealed that he had plans to retire soon. "I'm going to still do my producing, my films, but I want to enjoy my life a little bit," said Mac to Letterman. "I missed a lot of things, you know. I was a street performer for two years. I went into clubs in 1977."

Mac survived by a daughter, Je'Niece, and wife, Rhonda McCullough. Je'Niece has a daughter, Jasmine.

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