Farewell, big guy

Michael Clarke Duncan as he appeared in an advert earlier this year

Michael Clarke Duncan, an Oscar nominee for “The Green Mile” died Monday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after nearly two months of hospitalization following a July 13 heart attack. He was 54.

Michael was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of  death-row inmate John Coffey in 1999’s “The Green Mile,”. He also appeared in the film hits “Armageddon,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound Michael “suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,” an official statement said.

Michael was born in 1957 and grew up in Chicago in a single-parent household with his sister, Judy, and mother, Jean Duncan. He attended Alcorn State University, but left early to support his family when his mother became ill.

In his 20s, he worked digging ditches for Peoples Gas during the day and as a bouncer at night. His coworkers at the gas company called him “Hollywood” because he’d often talk about becoming a movie star.

“I’d be digging a ditch and they’d say, ‘Hey, man, Bruce Willis wants to talk to you about a movie.’ And they’d just crack up laughing,” he said while doing press for ‘The Green Mile.’

Michael also worked as nightclub bouncer after his college years and moved to Los Angeles to launch an acting career in 1995. He became a bodyguard for actors Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and began to draw attention after appearing in 1998’s “Armageddon”.

Earlier this year, he appeared in a video for PETA, the animal rights organization, in which he spoke of how much better he felt since becoming a vegetarian three years earlier.

Michael also starred in a public service announcement for the American Stroke Association.


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