Actor and comedian Bernie Mac, perhaps best known for starring in his self-titled sitcom and for his appearances in the Ocean's Eleven films, died early Saturday morning at the age of 50. According to his publicist, he succumbed due to complications from pneumonia in a Chicago-area hospital. Mac had suffered from sarcoidosis, a tissue inflammation disease, but it was believed to have gone in remission in 2005. Earlier in the week, there were conflicting reports as to the condition of Mac, including a rumor that he had already died. He is survived by his wife of over 30 years and a 27 yr old daughter.
Born Bernard Jeffery McCullough on Oct. 5 1957, Bernie Mac started doing stand-up as a kid and gradually worked his way up the showbiz ladder. He first gained widespread exposure through his appearances on Def Comedy Jam in the early 90s and made his film debut in the 1992 Damon Wayans comedy Mo' Money. Since then, Mac had appeared in over 20 films; including Friday, Get On the Bus, The Player's Club, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Guess Who, and Pride.
In 2001, his long-running sitcom The Bernie Mac Show debuted on FOX. The show featured Mac essentially playing himself, a successful comedian and husband living in Los Angeles. He and his wife's tranquil lives were turned upside down when they took in his sister's 3 kids. The Bernie Mac Show differed from most sitcoms in that it was filmed using a single camera and didn't employ a laugh track. Another trademark of the series is that each episode featured Mac sitting in his easy chair looking into the camera as he addressed the viewing audience directly. Although FOX bounced it around the schedule several times, it still managed to run for 5 years and produce over 100 episodes. The series earned several accolades, including the Peabody Award, the Humanitas Prize and an Emmy. For his work on the show, Mac himself also won a BET Comedy Award and three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series.
Bernie Mac is next set to appear on the big screen in November 2008 in the comedy Soul Men co-starring Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Leal, and John Legend.
Below is a clip of Bernie Mac as Officer Self Hatred in the 1996 parody Don't Be A Menace...