Bernie Mac was an American stand-up comedian, actor and voice artist best known for his television show ‘The Bernie Mac Show’. He lost his mother at a young age, as a result of which Bernie Mac faced several problems and had to take up several odd jobs to make ends meet. He soon realized that it is humour that keeps a person going in a treacherous journey called life. Thus, he decided to focus his attention to stand-up comedy and do his best to entertain people. Although Bernie Mac loved the idea of being a comedian since the age of eight, he decided to pursue his passion as a career only at a later stage of his life. His performance in the television series ‘The Bernie Mac Show’ earned him quite a few awards. He has acted in more than a dozen films, including ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ and ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’, where he was seen along with Hollywood stalwarts like Brad Pitt and George Clooney. Bernie Mac passed away when he was 50 and is fondly remembered as one of the best comedians of recent times.
Childhood & Early Life
Bernie Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago, Illinois on October 5, 1957. His mother’s name was Mary and his father’s name is not known.
He pursued his education from the ‘Chicago Vocational Career Academy’ and later shifted base to Florida and continued his studies at the ‘Jesuit High School’, in Tampa.
His first formal tryst with stand-up comedy was at the tender age of eight, at a church congregation. He imitated his grandparents at the event and left the crowd in splits.
His mother, father, brother and grandmother passed away when he was quite young. Bernie Mac took up several odd jobs to make ends meet.
He found his true calling in stand-up comedy and decided to become a comedian for a living. He was greatly influenced by the legendary trio of The Three stooges and other comedians, such as Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx. Initially, he cracked jokes at subways and parks in exchange for money, but soon became associated with the famous ‘Regal Theatre’ in Chicago.
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Bernie Mac’s life changed completely after he participated in the ‘Miller Lite Comedy Search’ contest and won it. He gained a lot of popularity after doing a famous stand-up comedy act on ‘Def Comedy Jam’, a television series produced by the channel ‘HBO’.
He later appeared in stand-up comedy shows that featured comedians like Dionne Warwick, Redd Foxx and Natalie Cole.
After a couple of blink-and-miss roles in movies like ‘Mo’ Money’ and ‘Who’s The Man?’, Bernie Mac was offered the character of Uncle Vester in the comedy flick ‘House Party 3’, which released in 1994. He was also seen in the movie ‘Above The Rim’ in the same year.
1995 saw the release of his two other flicks, namely ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Friday’. While ‘Friday’, a comic flick, was a success, ‘The Walking Dead’ failed miserably.
During the period 1996-99, Bernie Mac appeared in various films, such as ‘How To Be A Player’, ‘Booty Call’, ‘B*A*P*S’ and ‘The Players Club’. His most noteworthy performance during this period was his portrayal of Bundini Brown in the flick ‘Don King: Only In America’.
In 2001, Bernie Mac was seen in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, where he shared the screen with stalwarts like Brad Pitt and George Clooney.
In 2003, he was seen in three big budget movies, namely ‘Head of State’, ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’ and ‘Bad Santa’. All the three movies were commercially successful ventures.
In 2004, he was seen in two important films, namely ‘Mr. 3000’ and ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ – the sequel to the 2001 film.
Bernie Mac reprised his role of Frank Catton in the third instalment of the Ocean’s franchise titled ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’, which released in 2007.
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He played the characters Zuba and Floyd Henderson in the movird ‘Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’ and ‘Soul Men’ respectively. Both these movies were released in 2008.
The last film of his illustrious career was ‘Old Dogs’, in which he had essayed the character Jimmy Lunchbox. The ensemble of this 2009 film included several renowned names like John Travolta, Robin Williams and Kelly Preston. He also played a cameo in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Transformers’ which released the same year.
Bernie Mac is best known for his sitcom called ‘The Bernie Mac Show’. The episodes of the television show were mostly hilarious takes on the events which took place in his life. The show was a big hit with the American television viewers and catapulted Bernie Mac to the league of best comedians in the nation. The show ran for five years, from 2001 to 2006
Awards & Achievements:
In 2002-03, Bernie Mac was nominated for two ‘Emmy Awards’ for his role in the television show ‘The Bernie Mac Show’. He also won a ‘Television Critics Association Award’ during the same time for his impeccable acting in the same show.
In 2003, he bagged a ‘Prism Award’ as well as a ‘Satellite Award’ for his performance in ‘The Bernie Mac Show’.
During the period 2003-07, Bernie Mac was felicitated with the ‘NAACP Image Award’ in the ‘Outstanding Actor In A Comedy Series’ category 4 times, for his role in the TV show ‘The Bernie Mac Show’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Bernie Mac married Rhonda back in 1977 and the couple had a child together.
He suffered from Sarcoidosis, an ailment which causes inflammation in tissues. He died of cardiac arrest on 9 August 2008 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago
The ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine had recently mentioned Bernie Mac’s name in their list of ’50 Best Stand-Up Comics Of All Time’.
For one of his gigs at ‘The Cotton Club’, Chicago, Bernie Mac was supposed to wear a coat. However, he couldn’t afford to buy one and had to borrow his brother’s coat for the event.