Comedian and actor Bernie Mac dies at 50

Sat Aug 9, 2008 5:45pm EDT
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By Dean Goodman and Kyle Peterson

LOS ANGELES/CHICAGO Aug 9 (Reuters Life!) - Comedian and actor Bernie Mac, who starred in one of U.S. TV's few black sitcoms and appeared in the "Ocean's 11" movies, died in Chicago on Saturday after a bout with pneumonia. He was 50.

Publicist Danica Smith confirmed the death in a statement but gave no further details. "We ask that his family's privacy continues to be respected," she said.

Reactions poured in from Hollywood, which was taken by surprise because two days ago, Smith said he was "responding well to treatment" and remained in "stable condition."

"The world just got a little less funny. He will be dearly missed," said George Clooney, who starred with Mac in the "Ocean's" trilogy of hit box office films.

Mac was hospitalized in Chicago on August 1, and Smith said then his illness was unrelated to a chronic tissue inflammation called sarcoidosis, which had been in remission since 2005.

The Chicago-born comedian, whose given name was Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, was best known for his TV comedy "The Bernie Mac Show," which ran for five seasons until 2006.

Along with the "Ocean's" capers, he appeared in movies such as comedy "Guess Who" and "Mr. 3000." He recently worked on a new TV show "Starting Under" and an upcoming film "Soul Men."

With his beefy frame and bulging eyes, Mac cut an imposing figure. His scathing comedic observations were inspired by his impoverished childhood in Chicago and honed by years on the stand-up circuit.   Continued...

<p>Bernie Mac smiles at the premiere of "Ocean's Thirteen" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California June 5, 2007. The movie opens in the U.S. on June 8. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>