Tyler Perry says mom, inspiration for Madea, has died

Wed Dec 9, 2009 1:42pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. actor and director Tyler Perry on Wednesday announced the death of his mother, who he has previously credited as helping inspire the iconic Madea character in a string of hit movies.

In a brief message on his website, Perry wrote: "Willie Maxine Perry. February 12, 1945 to December 8, 2009. Thank you for all your prayers." The cause of death was not known.

Perry, 40, first introduced the character of the God-fearing, gun-toting, loud-mouthed grandmother Madea in his 2000 play "I Can Do Bad All By Myself".

Playing the character himself, Madea appeared in a series of plays and then hit movies including "Madea's Family Reunion", and the 2009 film "Madea Goes to Jail" which opened No 1. at U.S. box offices and went on to gross $90.5 million.

Perry told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 2006 interview that Madea was a combination of his mother and his aunt. "My mother is the wisdom of Madea, but my aunt Mayola, that's her wig, that's her voice, that's her gun in the purse," he said.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

<p>Writer, director, producer and actor Tyler Perry arrives at the premiere of "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" in New York September 8, 2009. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>