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Bernie Mac dies at age 50


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CHICAGO - Bernie Mac, the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor and comedian who worked his way to Hollywood success from an impoverished upbringing on Chicago's South Side, died Saturday at age 50.

 

"Actor/comedian Bernie Mac passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital," his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement from Los Angeles.

 

She said no other details were available and asked that his family's privacy be respected.

 

The comedian suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body's organs, but had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently was hospitalized and treated for pneumonia, which his publicist said was not related to the disease.

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I'm sad he died, but whenever I hear his name, all I can think of is his stand-up comedy act where he repeatedly called his 10 or 12 year old son (or nephew?) a 'faggot' in the most viscious, demeaning tone. He made a whole routine of it. I never 'got' his humor or understood his success.

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One blogger wrote in 2003 that Bernie Mac changed his use of the word faggot:

 

http://www.keithboykin.com/arch/2003/03/31/how_bernie_mac

 

And this, from the AfterElton blog in 2005:

 

Bernie Mac had to deal with homophobia recently, from, of all places, himself. His popular stand up routine included a humorous and frank discussion of his caring for his crack addicted sister’s three children. The kid that would get the most laughs would be his nephew, described as a “little faggot.” In spite of his rough delivery, between the lines, you could tell that he had love for the kids.

 

Unfortunately, between the lines wasn’t good enough. Mac never considered the hurt that his comedy could cause a young boy who wasn’t out of grade school. Concerned about the effect his actions had on the boy, he eliminated the homophobic references from his standup, went to the boy’s school and stressed the importance of his nephew in his life and, when it came time to create a show based on his family, modeled his nephew’s character on himself as a child, stressing his inquisitive nature rather than questioning his sexuality.

 

In the film Life, Mac played a gay inmate, again stressing the character’s humanity and love of his cellmate over a stereotypical portrayal.

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The Times reveals in its obituary for Isaac Hayes that he and Bernie Mac, along with Samuel Jackson, are in a film (Soul Men) to be released in November.

If I were Samuel Jackson, I'd be very careful on my way to getting a health check-up. Bad news comes in threes, doesn't it?

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