“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”
Jay Leno quoted this moving couplet from John Greenleaf Whittier’s Maud Muller at Michael Clarke Duncan’s memorial service yesterday, getting choked up as he pondered what the Academy Award-nominated actor might have experienced if he hadn’t passed away on Sept. 3.
Leno wasn’t the only star who turned out to remember Duncan — according to People, Bones and The Finder creator Hart Hanson, The Green Mile author Stephen King, Holly Robinson Peete, David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, and Duncan’s Green Mile costar Tom Hanks were also among the mourners.
Even though the occasion was incredibly sad, speakers threw in a few bits of levity here and there. Duncan’s fiancee Omarosa Manigault fondly recalled the first thing her intended ever said to her: “Aren’t you that mean girl from The Apprentice?”
“And then he worked every single day of our relationship to change that perception of me,” she continued. “The man you knew as an actor was my best friend.”
Hanks also lightened the mood with his speech, retelling a funny story Duncan had related on the set of The Green Mile. When he was a teenager, Duncan apparently decided to join a gang. His pint-sized mother, Jean Duncan, wasn’t exactly thrilled… but as Hanks tells it, her reaction to the news might make you smile.
Check out Leno and Hanks’ touching remembrances below.