Bernie Mac died early Saturday from complications due to pneumonia, his publicist has confirmed. The Emmy-nominated comedian-actor was 50.
In the coming days, we’ll be paying tribute to his career, which began in comedy clubs in 1977, and continues with the fall movie Soul Men, costarring his friend Samuel L. Jackson. In the meantime, you can remember Mac here.
He always knew the secret of his success was his willingness to speak the truth about his life — without fear. When he was eight, and performing his first stand-up at a church function, the honesty earned him a spanking from his grandmother (whom he’d impersonated). In 2000, it garnered him a mainstream audience after the R-rated, Spike-Lee directed concert film The Original Kings of Comedy hit theaters. (One of the funniest routines ever?) And in 2001, it scored him a hit Fox sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show, which lasted five seasons. ”I want to speak directly to the audience,” Mac told EW, ”to say I’m like you — I’m frustrated, I’m not an expert, I don’t have a manual on parenting, I make mistakes, I’m selfish too. Now all of a sudden I have kids — they break stuff, they talk back, one kid pees on himself. It’s not a black show; everybody has these problems.”
Below, a clip from The Bernie Mac Show. After the jump, Mac’s revealing 2002 chat with Charlie Rose.
Bernie Mac on Charlie Rose: May 23, 2002 (skip to 23:00)