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Michael Clarke Duncan: 1957 – 2012

It was tragedy that led the late The Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan into the world of acting. In 1997, the 6 foot 5…

It was tragedy that led the late The Green Mile star Michael Clarke Duncan into the world of acting. In 1997, the 6 foot 5 bodyguard was hired to look after rapper Notorious B.I.G. in Los Angeles. He let a friend take the job instead; the rapper was murdered that night. Duncan quit security for acting forever.

Raised in Chicago, Duncan was a studious child whose mother persuaded him away from American football dreams, fearing he’d get hurt. His thoughts turned to acting, but as ever the path wasn’t easy.

Having graduated from high school, the young Michael had to quit his Communications studies at University when his mother became ill. He found himself digging ditches at People Gas Company in Chicago as well as working as a bouncer in several Chicago clubs. Natural work for the burly baseball fan, but Hollywood was calling his name.

Once in Los Angeles, Duncan began working as a bodyguard for several stars including Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, LL Cool J and Jamie Foxx. Now closer to the movie industry, he began winning small roles in film and TV series, with character descriptions such as ‘Bouncer’, ‘Body Builder’ and ‘Big Mike’ (his real-life nickname) giving way to character names as his star rose.

Filming Armageddon in 1998, Michael Clarke Duncan became friendly with castmate Bruce Willis, who encouraged him in his career and would go on to appear with him in several more movies including Sin City. But it was Duncan’s role opposite Tom Hanks in 1999’s The Green Mile that put him on the map, winning him an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor In A Supporting Role. Many would say his role as the gentle giant was the movie’s most memorable.

Duncan would then go on to star in The Whole Nine Yards along with a host of other heavyweight roles. Dedicated in his preparations, he gained weight for the role of Kingpin in Daredevil and power-lifted daily. In recent years he leant his distinctive deep voice to films including Kung Fu Panda and recently completed several films, including In The Hive with Vivicia A Fox.

Despite his imposing physique, Michael Clarke Duncan was known for his cheerful demeanour and kindness. A cat lover (he had five), the gentle giant recently became a vocal supporter of animal rights organisation PETA. He became a vegetarian and spoke about how much healthier he felt.

Tragically, Duncan was also looking forward to a new chapter in his life: he had been dating reality TV star Omarosa Manigaul for two years and reports indicate the pair were engaged to be married.

It was Manigaul who performed CPR on her partner in July when he suffered a heart attack. After a spell in intensive care, he remained in hospital until his death on Monday. Manigaul is described as “devastated”.

Set For ‘The Finder’ Comeback

Michael Clarke Duncan was all set to appear in one more episode of crime drama The Finder according to the creator of the Bones spin-off, Hart Hanson. In an emotional piece written for The Hollywood Reporter, Hanson explained “The Finder started as an episode of Bones, and we were thinking of having Mcd and Geoff [Stults] do one more crossover episode on Bones so that we could tell the Bones fans what happened after The Finder didn’t come back.”

Continuing, he added “We put all that on hold when he had his heart attack in July, but we were hoping he’d be back…We’re just now coming to grips with the idea that Mcd is gone. I sure hope we can think of something that would do him proud.” The death of Duncan has stunned Hollywood; though he only came to acting in his 30s, the gigantic star had become one of the most likable and respected in the business, following his incredible turn in 1999’s Green Mile opposite Tom Hanks.

“He was a huge presence, and I believe he was destined to be a big TV star” commented Hanson on his move to the small screen in recent years. “A lot of actors are nothing like what you see, but Mcd was very much like what you see onscreen: that big smile, that big voice, not a bit of a bully to him. He doesn’t alpha-male anybody, though he could alpha-male anyone he wanted. He was just a genuinely good guy.”

Tributes from all over

Tributes from industry friends have been pouring in since news of his death, revealing a great deal of love for the actor.

Friends, colleagues, co-stars and fans have collectively expressed their sadness at the death of actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who passed away at 54.

Tom Hanks, who co-starred with Michael Clarke Duncan, told reporters, “I am terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike. He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of The Green Mile. He was magic. He was a big love of a man and his passing leaves us stunned.”

Director Robert Rodriguez (left) tweeted: ‘Was fortunate to work with Michael Clarke Duncan on Sin City. A very kind and generous actor. He’ll be greatly missed.’

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who worked with Duncan on The Scorpion King, tweeted: ‘When something happens, we always say it happens for a reason’ ~ Michael Clarke Duncan 12/10/57 – 9/3/12 I’ll miss you my brother..’

Peter Facinelli also worked on The Scorpion King with Duncan: ‘Just heard about Michael Clarke Duncan. It was an honor 2 have worked with U sir. Ur smile & laugh were infectious & touched many souls. RIP’ he said on Twitter

‘I’ll miss the Big Bass, the Big Smile & the Big Hug. Michael Clarke Duncan, gone too soon!’ tweeted Samuel L Jackson

Musician friend MC Hammer tweeted: ‘One of the best among men on earth. A gentle Giant. Loved him. Pure class and grace. RIP my friend.’

Boxer Lennox Lewis was saddened. He said on Twitter: ‘Just heard the news that @officialmcd passed away. My prayers go out to his family and @Omarosa during this very sad time.’

Evander Holyfield also tweeted: ‘My prayers go out to @OfficialMCD @omarosa and his family.’

Machete star Danny Trejo tweeted: ‘Rest In Peace Michael Clarke Duncan, Prayers out to his family.’

Sprinter star Johan Blake tweeted: ‘I was saddened to hear of Michael Clarke Duncan’s death. He was a GREAT actor and I was a huge fan. Condolences to his family.

Michael Clarke Duncan, the Oscar-nominated actor who died Monday, and reality-TV personality Omarosa Manigault planned to marry next year, Manigault’s representative told CNN Tuesday.

Duncan, 54, and Manigault, 38, intended to have children together, Priscilla Clarke said.

Manigault became a celebrity when she competed on Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” show in 2004. She later appeared on several other reality shows.

According to TMZ, Manigault provided lifesaving efforts when Duncan had the heart attack in his home. It has been claimed that she left the room briefly and he passed while she was out

Michael Clarke Duncan’s life will be celebrated with a public casket viewing and a private service next week.

Duncan spokeswoman Joy Fehily said Wednesday that the Oscar-nominated actor’s casket will be on view from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday at the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Los Angeles. A private, invitation-only service will follow on Monday.

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