Michael Clarke Duncan Biography

Michael Clarke Duncan was an American actor best known for his moving performance in the movie ‘Green Mile’. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and other facts about his life.

Quick Facts

Birthday: December 10, 1957

Nationality: American

Famous: Actors American Men

Died At Age: 54

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Born in: Los Angeles, California, United States

Famous as: Actor

Height: 6'5" (196 cm), 6'5" Males

Died on: September 3, 2012

U.S. State: California, Illinois

City: Los Angeles

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Michael Clarke Duncan was an American actor best known for his moving performance in the movie ‘Green Mile’. His life story is that of a simple boy from a humble background eventually making it big in the glittery world of Hollywood. He had a modest beginning and first worked as a digger in a gas station company and then as a security guard at a security firm catering to various Hollywood actors before realizing his calling. At the insistence of his mother, he pursued his dream of becoming an actor. Known for his rather large physique, he was cast more often in roles that called for action and aggression onscreen. He created a stir when he turned a vegetarian and was an ardent supporter of PETA. He had appeared in more than 70 films until his untimely demise due to heart complications. Years later, he is still remembered for his imposing stature and acting persona that he brought onscreen and his genial personality off the camera.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Michael Clarke Duncan was born on 10 December 1957 at Chicago (Southside area), Illinois, and was raised by his single mother Jean Duncan, who was a house cleaner. He also had a sister, Judith, whom he supported throughout his life.
  • During his high school years he wanted to play football, but his mother was scared he might get hurt and would not let him play. He instead turned to acting and worked hard to attain his goal.
  • He was focused on studies and pursued communications at Alcorn State University, but had to drop out in order to support his ailing mother. He played basketball at Kankakee Community College and at Alcorn State for one season.
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  • Michael Clarke Duncan’s initial job was as a digger for People’ Gas company and also as a bouncer for various Southside nightclubs. He moved on to a security role with a touring stage production company of ‘Beauty Shop, Part 2’ and as a result travelled to 56 cities.
  • He settled in Los Angeles in 1995 where he took up work in a security firm and worked as a body guard for various celebrities like Jamie Foxx, Martin Lawrence, and Will Smith. He continued to pursue his acting dream and landed a few roles in commercials at the same time.
  • His huge frame (6ft 5 inches) and imposing built led him to getting some ‘tough guy’ roles on television series like ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’, ‘The Jamie Foxx Show’ and the ‘Bold and the Beautiful’.
  • In the world of movies, Duncan initially started with small roles in movies like ‘Bulworth’ (1998), The ‘Players Club’ (1998), and ‘A night at Roxbury’ (1998). Later on, he received much praise and acclaim for his role as Bear in Michael Bay’ action packed blockbuster ‘Armageddon’ (1998).
  • His good friend Bruce Willis suggested him for the role of John Coffey in Frank Darabont’s ‘Green Mile’ (1999). Michael’s moving performance as the gentle giant with superhuman healing powers led him to a spot in the Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan’s other films range from different genres covering comedies to full-fledged action packed movies like ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ (2000), ‘See Spot Run’ (2001), ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001), ‘The Scorpion King’ (2002) , ‘Daredevil’(2003), ‘The Island’ (2005) and ‘Sin City’ (2005).
  • He also lent his voice to various animated movies and brought various characters alive onscreen with his deep resonating voice. He had worked as a voice actor in films like ‘Brother Bear’ (2003), ‘Brother Bear 2’ the sequel (2006), ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (2008), and ‘Green Lantern’ (2011).
  • He had done voiceovers for various video games including ‘Soldier of Fortune’, ‘God of War II’, and ‘Saints Row’ as well.
  • He made guest appearances on popular TV Shows like ‘Chuck’ (2008), ‘Bones’ (2011) and two episodes of the popular comedy show , ‘Two and a Half Men’ (2008 and 2009 respectively) . He was also one of the most frequent guests on ‘The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson’, having appeared for 18 times. Following Duncan’s death, Ferguson paid tribute to him by playing his reruns before the start of his next season’s show.
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Major Works
  • Michael Clarke Duncan received much acclaim and popularity for his role as Jayotis Bear Kurleenbear in the Bruce Willis starrer smash hit, ‘Armageddon’ (1998) which was nominated for four Oscars and grossed over $553 million worldwide.
  • He received global prominence for his acting skills and portrayal of the complex character of John Coffey in the Tom Hanks starrer ‘Green Mile’ (1999), which was nominated for four Oscars, one Golden Globe and grossed over $130 million.
Awards & Achievements
  • Michael Clarke Duncan won several awards for his performance in ‘Green Mile’ (1999). These include Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor and Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actor.
  • He was also nominated in the category of Best Supporting Actor for his role of John Coffey in ‘Green Mile’ at the Academy Awards, along with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes Award and at the Screen Actors Guild Awards for the same role.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Towards his later years Michael Clarke Duncan turned vegetarian (2009) and supported PETA in their campaigns and advertisements. He made a film talking about his animal-friendly lifestyle and how he threw away $5000 worth of meat which created a stir.
  • He suffered a heart attack on July 13, 2012, post which he was treated for two months. He eventually succumbed to respiratory failure on September 3, 2012 at the age of 54 at Los Angeles, California.
  • He is survived by his mother Jean Duncan, his sister Judy and fiancée Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. Post his death, the family was embroiled in a property feud with allegations being made at Omarosa for tampering with the will and sale of Michael’s personal belongings.
  • Michael Clarke Duncan actor was a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu.
  • He supposedly gave $5 to anyone who recognized him on the street and knew what his full name was.
  • Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson were his close friends.

1. The Green Mile (1999)

  (Mystery, Fantasy, Drama, Crime)

2. Sin City (2005)

  (Crime, Thriller)

3. The Finder (2012)

  (Crime, Comedy, Drama, Romance)

4. Friday (1995)

  (Drama, Comedy)

5. The Island (2005)

  (Romance, Adventure, Action, Thriller, Sci-Fi)

6. Armageddon (1998)

  (Thriller, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Action)

7. The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

  (Comedy, Crime)

8. Bulworth (1998)

  (Romance, Drama, Comedy)

See the events in life of Michael Clarke Duncan in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Michael Clarke Duncan Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- March 08, 2017
Michael Clarke Duncan

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