I just finished watched Soul Men with Bernie Mac & Samuel L Jackson and was moved by the added footage of Bernie Mac in the credits. I have been a fan for many years & was saddened when I heard of his passing. Below is a mini-tribute / profile I wrote for a magazine in South Africa at the time. Just thought I’d share.
On August 9th, 2008, actor and comedian Bernie Mac departed from this realm; the laughter he brought to our lives only to be relieved in what was captured on film and television. Born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago 50 years ago, Bernie’s career took off late when he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search at the age of 32, which then led to his featuring on Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam and the rest, as they say, is history.
His stand-up career was built on honesty, a unique voice and the willingness to unapologetically talk about the stuff that we all think, but are afraid to talk about. Finally getting recognition as a comedian, he started getting bit roles in film, in particular ‘black films’, such as Mo Money, Above The Rim, House Party 3, Friday, Booty Call and Def Jam’s: How to Be a Player, in which he always made a memorable impact regardless of size of role. He also featured in Spike Lee’s acclaimed film on the Million Man March, Get On The Bus, as well as the Eddie Murphy / Martin Lawrence comedy, Life.
Interestingly enough, it was Spike Lee’s filming of The Original Kings of Comedy, the groundbreaking comedy tour with Steve Harvey, Cedric The Entertainer and D.L. Hughley, that would launch him further into our consciousness. Undoubtedly one of the best ever live comedy shows, Bernie Mac was his usual hilarious, biting self and this launched him into the mainstream getting a deal to do The Bernie Mac Show (which only flighted one season in SA), loosely based on his life and a comedy skit from his stand-up. The show ran from 2001 to 2006 netting him multiple NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series and numerous award nominations.
He also had a regular featured role on Brandy’s Moesha and continued to entertain us on the big screen in a range of films, including: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?; Head of State, with Chris Rock; Bad Santa, with Billy Bob Thornton; Guess Who, with Ashton Kutcher; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; Mr 3000 and Transformers. He was a supporting actor in the Ocean’s film, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle.
He recently completed Soul Men (with Isaac Hayes who ironically passed away the day after Bernie) and Old Dogs so, though he is gone, we shall still experience his unique spirit. We pay tribute to a man who overcame hardship to bring us laughter and cheer. Bernie Mac.