Bernie Mac had a $15 million net worth when he died in 2008. When he was in his 20s, he began performing stand-up in Chicago. His career took off after he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search in his 30s. He later appeared on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam and in films such as “Friday,” “B*A*P*S,” “Booty Call,” “Life,” “Ocean’s Eleven,” “What’s the Worst That Could Happen,” “Bad Santa,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” “Mr. 3000,” and “Transformers.” Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show” starred him for five seasons. “Kings of Comedy” tour. 2008 was his last year.
Bernie Mac was born on October 5, 1957 to Mary McCullough and Jeffrey Harrison, who had one child. Mac grew up in Chicago with his mother and maternal grandparents until he was 16. Later, his estranged father and older brother died. In 1975, he graduated from Chicago Vocational High School.
Mac was a bus driver, cook, janitor, delivery man, and mover before becoming a comedian. During this time, he honed his comic chops at Chicago’s Cotton Club.
Mac won the Miller Lite Comedy Search at 32, which boosted his popularity. After “Def Comedy Jam,” his popularity grew. His brave performance calmed an angry crowd after Martin Lawrence failed. Mac opened for Redd Roxx, Natalie Cole, and Dionne Warwick. He finally became a headliner.
Mac auditioned for film parts while growing his stand-up career. “House Party 3,” “B.A.P.S.,” and “Friday” starred him. Mac was later cast in the Apollo Revival of “Wiz.” He starred in “The Players Club” and appeared in “Ocean’s Eleven” opposite Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts. He played a retired baseball player in “Mr. 3000” and Bosley in “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” “Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa,” “Soul Men,” and “Old Dogs” were released posthumously after Mac’s death.
Mac had TV success. Following Mac’s commercial success, Fox gave him his own TV show, “The Bernie Mac Show,” from 2001 until 2006. The show won Emmys for Outstanding Writing and Broadcasting Excellence. Humanitas Prize for promoting human dignity via writing. “TV Guide” named Mac’s character one of the “50 Greatest TV Dads” Mac’s performance was nominated for Emmys, Golden Globes, and Kids Choice Awards. He earned NAACP Image Awards, a Prism Award, Satellite Awards, and a BET Comedy Award.
Mac wed Rhonda Gore in 1977. Ja’Niece Childress was born in 1978. In 2008, the couple divorced.
Mac loved baseball besides acting and comedy. During the 2003 National League Championship Series, he sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field. Since childhood, he’d followed the Chicago White Sox. He constantly mentioned the team on “The Bernie Mac Show” and started an episode with a congratulations segment after the 2005 World Series win.
Mac revealed years before his death that he had sarcoidosis, which caused lung inflammation. Mac died of cardiac death after being taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago for pneumonia on August 9 at age 50.
A week after his death, his public funeral gathered approximately 7,000 people, including Ashton Kutcher, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, and Don Cheadle.
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WCIU-TV aired “A Tribute to Bernie Mac” on the day of Mac’s funeral, featuring interviews with family, friends, and former colleagues. The Chicago mayor named November 14 “Bernie Mac Day” eight years after Mac’s death, and Steve Harvey presented a special celebrating his life. Mac’s previous high school, Chicago Vocational High School, will rename its auditorium in his honour.
Since his passing, “Rolling Stone” has named Mac one of the 50 best stand-up comics ever. Rhonda Gore, Mac’s wife, created the Bernie Mac Foundation to fund sarcoidosis research.
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