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Actor-comedian Bernie Mac, who had been hospitalized for pneumonia, died Saturday at a Chicago area hospital, his spokeswoman said. He was 50.
Publicist Danica Smith confirmed the death in a statement but gave no further details. “We ask that his family’s privacy continues to be respected,” she said.
Mac was reported to have been in stable condition Thursday, and his release from the hospital was expected in weeks. Smith had said Mac’s bout with pneumonia was unrelated to his previous diagnosis of a chronic tissue inflammation, called sarcoidosis, which has been in remission since 2005.
Mac was best known for his roles in the “Ocean’s Eleven” trilogy and other films, including “Guess Who” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”
“The world just got a little less funny,” Mac’s “Ocean’s Eleven” co-star George Clooney said in a statement. “He will be dearly missed.
Mac first achieved national prominence after joining the Kings of Comedy stand-up tour in 1997 with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer, tapping into an underserved market for middle-class blacks.
In television, Mac starred in and executive produced the single-camera comedy “The Bernie Mac Show,” which ran on Fox for five seasons. The role earned him two Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.
In October 2004, production on the fourth season of “The Bernie Mac Show” was halted and the season premiere delayed by two months after Mac was hospitalized for what initially was described as exhaustion.
Several months later, the actor reveled that he had been taken to the hospital with double pneumonia and sarcoidosis symptoms. He also disclosed that he had lived with sarcoidosis since 1983.
“Bernie Mac was a gifted talent whose comedy came from an authentic and highly personal place,” Fox and 20th Century Fox TV, which co-produced the series with Regency TV, said in a statement. “He was a tremendous live performer and a wonderful actor.”
This past development season, Mac starred in another comedy prospect for Fox, the Warner Bros. TV-produced father-son sitcom “Starting Under,” which was a serious contender for a series pickup but ultimately missed the cut in May. However, Fox executives stressed at the time they were looking for another opportunity to work with the comedian.
Shortly before he was hospitalized this summer, Mac made headlines with off-color jokes during a fundraiser for presidential candidate Barack Obama in his native Chicago.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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