Legendary American comedian Bernie Mac died from complications of pneumonia on August 9, 2008 at the age of 50.
Bernie Mac was born Bernard Jeffery McCullough on October 5, 1957 in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. As a young man, he established his own variety show at the Regal Theater in his hometown before landing regular gigs at comedy clubs in 1977 where he gained popularity as a stand-up comedian. Mac counted The Three Stooges and Richard Pryor as his major comedic influences.
The same year, Bernie Mac wed his high school sweetheart Rhonda, with whom he had a daughter named Ja’Niece. The 1990s for Bernie marked breakout film roles in the comedies Mo Money (1992) and Friday (1995), as well as increased popularity as a comedian due to frequent performances on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam.
From 2001 to 2006, Bernie Mac starred in his own television sitcom The Bernie Mac Show. In it, he played a father-figure role to his sister’s three children after she enters rehab. The show received much critical acclaim, garnering an Emmy for Outstanding Writing, a Peabody Award, and a Humanitas Prize among other accolades.
In 2001, Bernie Mac brought to life one of his most famous roles as Frank Catton in Steven Soderberg’s Ocean’s Eleven alongside George Clooney and Brad Pitt. In the next few years, Bernie Mac would continue to act in major motion pictures such as Head of State (2001), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Bad Santa (2003), Mr. 3000 (2004), Guess Who? (2005), as well as the Ocean’s Eleven sequels in 2004 and 2007, respectively.
In addition to acting, Bernie Mac also wrote two autobiographical books; I Ain’t Scared of You: Bernie Mac on How Life Is in 2001, and Maybe You Never Cry Again in 2003.