Friday, August 9, 2013

Remembering Bernie Mac October 5, 1957 - August 9, 2008

Bernard Jeffery McCullough was the second child to Mary McCullough and Jeffery Harrison and during his childhood had the nickname of “Beanie”  Bernie was born in a rough Chicago neighborhood that included several gangs.  He always lived his life as a leader and not a follower.  It was said that he had the respect of all of the gang leaders without having been in one.  He accepted Jesus Christ at a very early age having attended the BurningBush Missionary Baptist Church in Englewood (Chicago).

Many people never know what they want to do in life until they become young adults.  Not Bernie.  His family said that at the age of 4, Bernie knew how to make people laugh and enjoyed doing it.  His early motivation was watching his mother laugh hysterically at the legendary Bill Cosby.  He enjoyed putting on shows for neighborhood kids on the south side.

In Bernie’s early years, he had numerous jobs including a truck driver, restaurant manager, mover, basketball coach, and Wonder Bread delivery man.  His break came in 1990 when he won first place in the Miller Lite Comedy Search.  His popularity began to grow and grow and the day came when he earned a spot on the Def Comedy Jam.  He began to open tours with many greats including Chaka Khan, Barry White and the Whispers.

He made his film debut in 1992 with his role in Mo’ Money and soon played Pastor Cleaver in the hit movie “Friday.” Other film credits include “Who’s The Man” “Above the Rim” “Head of State” Ocean’s II” Bad Santa” and Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle” to name a few.    He also became an author having written two autobiographies “I Ain’t Scared of You” and “Maybe You Never Cry Again”

He would reach his peak when he toured the country as one of “The Original Kings of Comedy” that also included Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and Steve Harvey.  In 2001, he was asked to loosely portray his actual life on television and the show became known as “The Bernie Mac Show” The show was extremely successful and garnered him a Peabody Award, several Emmy nominations, and the NAACP Image Award.  His character on the show “Uncle Bernie” ranks #47 in TV Guide’s List of the 50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.  He is also listed #72 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Standups of All Time.  It was said that he made $300,000 per episode.

Bernie’s plans were to retire from his nearly 30 year career after filming the comedy film “The Whole Truth, Nothing But the Truth, So Help Me Mac.”

Bernie was passionate about his city, Chicago and became deeply involved in the school system as well as Youth organizations.  His funeral program says of him “Bernie wore many hats and had a huge heart that he shared with the world.”  In his own words “I don’t wanna be no star because stars fall.  I do what I do and I rise.”

In 2008, Mac was admitted to Northwestern Hospital in Chicago and a week later went into cardiac arrest where he died August 9, 2008 at the age of 50.  He suffered from a condition known as sarcoidosis.
Bernie’s funeral (funeral program pictured)was conducted by Leak and Sons Funeral Chapels in Chicago and

was held on Saturday, August 16, 2008 in the House of Hope in Chicago and early 7000 people were in attendance.  The funeral was attended by many notables including comedian Chris Rock, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, and Ashton Kutcher.  Among those who paid tribute to Bernie Mac were Rev. Jesse Jackson, Samuel Jackson and members of “The Original Kings of Comedy. Each area of Bernie’s life was talked about including “The Comedian” “The Family Man” “The Business Man” “The Celebrity” “The Friend” and “The Father”

Bernie Mac was cremated and laid to rest in the WashingtonMemory Gardens Cemetery in Homewood, Illinois.

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