"Green Mile" actor Michael Clarke Duncan dies at 54

Mon Sep 3, 2012 11:39pm EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of a death row inmate in the 1999 drama "The Green Mile," died in a hospital on Monday, less than eight weeks after suffering a heart attack, a spokeswoman said. He was 54.

Duncan died in Los Angeles, his fiancée, reality television star Omarosa Manigault, said in a statement through Duncan's publicist.

He had a heart attack on July 13 and "never fully recovered," publicist Joy Fehily said. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, she said.

Duncan's deep voice and hulking 6-foot-5 (1.96-metre) frame gave him a commanding screen presence. He once dug ditches for the gas company in his native Chicago, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career as an actor.

He worked as a bodyguard and bouncer and played a few roles of that kind in film and television, before landing a small part in the 1998 movie "Armageddon."

That led to a much larger role in the 1999 prison drama "The Green Mile" with Tom Hanks. Duncan played an inmate with magical powers who is put to death for two murders he did not commit.

"Michael was the gentlest of souls - an exemplar of decency, integrity and kindness," Frank Darabont, director of "The Green Mile," said in a statement. "The sadness I feel is inexpressible."

Duncan's role in the film won him a supporting actor Oscar nomination. "Duncan's ... presence is literally and figuratively the biggest thing in the movie," wrote Washington Post critic Desson Howe.   Continued...

 
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan arrives at the 2010 BET Awards in Los Angeles in this June 27, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas/Files