Born Bernard Jeffery McCullough in Chicago in 1957, the actor began his showbiz career as a stand-up comedian in the local Cotton Pickin’ Club. He starred in Transformers, the Ocean’s Eleven films and his own Award-winning sitcom The Bernie Mac Show, which is based on his own life as caretaker of his sister’s kids.
The 50-year-old comedian, passed away on Saturday morning at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, a week after being admitted to the medical centre. Bernie Mac’s family had expected him to fully recover from the bout of pneumonia that put him in a hospital three weeks ago, his daughter said Sunday. However, Je’niece Childress said that as time passed she and her mother braced for the possibility that he could die.
News of the actor’s illness emerged at the start of the month, but his publicist Danica Smith released a number of statements earlier this week playing down reports of Mac’s deteriorating health.
At one point, Smith had to dismiss claims Mac had died, and on Thursday she said the actor was “in a stable condition” and was “responding well to treatment”. She even predicted he would be released from hospital within weeks.
But the star – who had also been suffering from sarcoidosis, a tissue inflammation disease, since 1983 – died on Saturday after experiencing complications from pneumonia, reports TMZ.com.
In a statement issued hours after his passing, his representative said, “Actor/comedian Bernie Macpassed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital. No other details are available at this time. We ask that his family’s privacy continues to be respected.”
Je’niece Childress said Mac, who maintained a home in the south Chicago suburb of Frankfort, was a loving father, husband and grandfather. Childress, 30, is Mac’s only child. Her mother, Rhonda McCullough, and Mac were married for 32 years, she said. Childress has a 1-year-old daughter.
“He was a hard man and he made no apologies for that,” Childress said. “When it came to me and my mother and my daughter he was the softest.”
The bold-talking comic, earned the ire of Sen. Barack Obama last month for using language deemed “inappropriate” during Mac’s act at a fundraiser for the Democrat presidential candidate. Mac’s brand of comedy caught him some flack after he joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Bernie Mac will be remembered as a comedian that refused to change his image for Hollywood and as a mature comedian who is very intelligent, very engaging in his TV, movie and stand-up appearances.
Again, The Bernie Mac cause of death seems to be complications of pneumonia, and at 50, it is sad that we have lost one of our edgy comedians.