It all started back in 1996 when John Herzig's hobby was collecting autographs. John had requested the autographed photo of legendary boxer Joe Louis and received a package containing MORE than just the photograph – it contained the program from the fighter's 1981 funeral ceremony. That event sparked John's interest in famous funerals, and began his collection, currently numbering some 1,500 pieces… considered the largest known collection of its kind!
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Remembering Michael Clarke Duncan December 10, 1957 - September 3, 2012
If you saw the movie “The Green Mile” you will never soon
forget the performance of Michael Clarke Duncan as “John Coffey.” He was not only a huge man but his
performance was that as well.
Duncan grew up in the south side of Chicago, Illinois, and raised by his mother. His mom named
him Michael Clarke because she felt he was destined for greatness and that
Michael Clarke had a star like ring to it.
As a child, his mom taught Michael how to be a leader. She gave him a clean white handkerchief and
told her son to “Stick this in the back of your right jean pocket, let it hang
out, and don’t say anything to anyone about it.
Watch what happens.” He came back
to his mom and reported that his friends in the neighborhood began to wear
white handkerchiefs in their back pockets.
Her reply was “That’s how you know you’re a leader.” This was a lesson he claimed he never forgot.
He graduated from King High School. He played both football and basketball at
Kankakee Community College and then Alcorn State University in
Mississippi. He left college early to
return to Chicago to help support his family.
He had many early jobs including digging ditches, a personal trainer,
and working as a bouncer and often talked about his dream of becoming a
Hollywood actor. His friends called him
“Hollywood Mike.” He would soon pursue
his dream and took a job as a bodyguard for playwright Shelly Garrett.
The Green Mile
He received his first acting break having earned a small
part in the film “Armageddon” having played a member of the drilling team. It was actor, Bruce Willis who initiated the
call to give Michael a chance at the part of John Coffey in The Green Mile. He received numerous accolades for that
performance including a nomination of for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award,
and and numerous other nominations. He
also was recognized as the "ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow".
He was not only considered to be a great actor but a
terrific human being. He is remembered
as an extremely gentle and loving man whose voice and compassion was felt by
all who knew him.
Duncan continued to appear in films including “The Whole
Nine Yards” “Planet of the Apes” “The Scorpion King” and “Talladega Nights” to
name a few. His final appearances were
as “Leo Knox” in The Finder and Robert Townsend’s The Hive.
His deep voice was used in films as well including Kung Fu Panda,
Racing Stripes, and Delgo and Dinotopia: Curse of the Ruby Sunstone.
On Michael Clarke Duncan’s personal side, he was a huge
animal lover (companion to six cats, two dogs and three fish) and a big supporter
of PETA. He also took pride in his
health. He was a vegetarian and was
trained in Brazilian jujitsu having earned a purple belt. He was also professional sports fan and
narrated the Major League Baseball film on the 2005 World Series. He loved his family and was called “Uncle
Moose” by his nieces and nephews.
Michael Clarke Duncan died on September 3, 2013 following a heart attack at the age of 54.
His funeral program at Forest Lawn
A Celebration of Life and Legacy was held on Monday, September 10, 2012 in the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Park & Mortuary in Los Angeles (funeral program pictured). Among those who paid tribute to Michael were Tom Hanks, Stevie Wonder, and Jay Leno. The service lasted nearly four hours. A letter was read by Stephen King who said of him "no actor has ever done a character I wrote more justice." Jay Leno spoke with his voice cracking "Just to see such a pure heart and pure kindness, and to see it taken so early, there are no sadder words than what might have been." Finally, Tom Hanks impersonated the 6 ft. 5 inch, 300 lb., deep voiced Duncan sheepishly explaining to his fellow gang members that his mom wouldn't let him be in a gang. If is wasn't for that mama and the frying pan with a pork chop, we would not be here today celebrating the life of such a great man."
Resting Place at Forest Lawn
Michael Clarke Duncan was then laid to rest in the mausoleum at Forest Lawn.