Bernie Mac Dies - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Actor and funnyman Bernie Mac, whose career launched into high gear as one of four “Original Kings of Comedy,” died Saturday morning at the age of 50 in a Chicago-area hospital from complications of pneumonia.

The comedian appeared in the top selling Ocean’s Eleven”movie trilogy and won a prestigious Peabody Award for his sitcom The Bernie Mac Show.

In a statement from Los Angeles, his publicist Danica Smith said that although he suffered from sarcoidosis–an inflammatory lung disease–that the disease went into remission in 2005, and the pneumonia was not related to the disease. Smith said no other details were available and asked that his family’s privacy be respected.

Recently, during a surprise appearance at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate and fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, Mac’s brand of comedy earned a rebuke from the Obama campaign because he used occasional crude language and joked about menopause, sexual infidelity, and promiscuity.

That shocking brand of comedy also got him a Grammy nomination for best comedy album in 2001 along with his The Original Kings of Comedy co-stars, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer.

“It was the biggest-grossing comedy tour in the history of comedy to date,” said Harvey in a recent interview. “Bernie was the anchor of the Kings of Comedy Tour [meaning] he went up last. No matter how funny we were. No matter what level we had taken the crowd to, Bernie would go out there every night and find a way to get on top of all of that and do his thing. He’s a bad boy.”

Recently talks had surfaced about doing another Kings of Comedy tour, but Bernie’s people said that he didn’t feel like touring. Harvey says the others considered continuing without him, but those thoughts didn’t last long. “I can’t imagine that without him. We scrapped the idea. Bernie is not a replaceable guy,” said Harvey describing Mac’s comedy as “explosive.”

Harvey says the news of Mac’s death “knocked the air out of him” and “flattened him.”

“Bernie is a brother who would forge through a lot of hardships. Even through his own illnesses. He would never complain,” says Harvey. The highly acclaimed The Bernie Mac Show, a Fox television series about a man’s adventures raising his sister’s three children, aired more than 100 episodes from 2001 to 2006. The show, which some said transcended race and class, garnered Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Mac, who grew up in an impoverished neighborhood on Chicago’s Southside.

Many will remember him as a television father figure, but not too many knew that Mac had been married to the same woman, Rhonda McCullough, for 25 years. “Bernie would want to be remembered as a great father and a great husband,” says Harvey.

Mac has starred in some of Hollywood’s top performing movies with A-list actors including the Ocean‘s series which starred academy nominated actor Don Cheadle, Brad Pitt, and George Clooney. He also played

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.