Michael Clarke Duncan died of heart complications on Sept. 3. He was 54.

By Chris Nashawaty
September 07, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

His life’s journey took him from digging ditches in Illinois to rubbing tuxedo-clad elbows with Hollywood royalty at the Shrine Auditorium. Sadly, that journey came to an end on Sept. 3 when Michael Clarke Duncan died at age 54 of complications related to a heart attack he’d suffered in July. With his hulking 6-foot-5-inch build and booming foghorn of a voice, Duncan seemed destined for a career playing tough guys and bodyguards (which he actually had been for such A-list clients as Will Smith and Jamie Foxx). Instead, he lent an unexpected gentleness to his roles even when playing giants, as in his 1998 breakthrough Armageddon and 1999’s The Green Mile, which earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. (Duncan — who was reportedly engaged to Apprentice alum Omarosa Manigault at the time of his death — was most recently seen on this year’s Bones spin-off, The Finder.) ”I am terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike,” his Green Mile costar Tom Hanks said in a statement. ”He was a big love of man and his passing leaves us stunned.”

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