Michael Clarke Duncan died Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for a July heart attack, said his fiancee, reality TV personality Rev. Omarosa Manigault, in a statement released by publicist Joy Fehily.
Duncan “suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,” the statement said. “Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time. Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date.”
Duncan’s co-star Mercedes Masohn tweeted: “Today is a sad day. Michael Clark Duncan passed away this morning. Known for his moving performance in The Green Mile. RIP MCD. You’ll b missed.”
According to The Washington Post, Duncan’s roles include included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inate in “The Green Mile” and performance in box office hits including “Armageddon,” ‘’Planet of the Apes” and “Kung Fu Panda.”
Born in Chicago in 1957, Duncan was raised by a single mother whose resistance to his playing football led to his deciding he wanted to become an actor. But when his mother became ill, Duncan dropped out of college, Alcorn State University, and worked as a ditch digger and bouncer to support her.
The NY Daily News writes that Duncan worked as a bodyguard for Will Smith and Jamie Foxx and was hired to protect Brooklyn rapper Christopher (Notorious B.I.G) Wallace the night Wallace was murdered in Los Angeles.
He swapped the assignment with a friend and quit security within hours of Wallace’s 1997 death.
In 1998, he landed his first significant movie part, playing Bear in the film “Armageddon,” where a crew of drillers from an oil rig save the Earth from an asteroid, recalls CNN.
“Armageddon” was the beginning of his friendship with Bruce Willis. They appeared in four films together. And it was Willis who called ‘The Green Mile’ director Frank Darabont to put in a good word for Duncan.
The 1999 film, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, starred Tom Hanks as a corrections officer at a penitentiary in the 1930s. Duncan played John Coffey, a convicted murderer with a surprisingly gentle demeanor and extraordinary healing powers.
“The Green Mile” brought him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.
Tom Hanks said he was “terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike. He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of ‘The Green Mile.’ He was magic. He was a big love of man and his passing leaves us stunned.”
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who starred with Duncan in the movie “The Scorpion King” said on Twitter: “When something happens, we always say it happens for a reason … Michael Clarke Duncan 12/10/57 – 9/3/12 I’ll miss you my brother.”
Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Duncan’s performance “is both acting and being.” Ebert tweeted Monday that Duncan was “A striking screen presence.”
“I will miss my friend, Michael Clarke Duncan,” comedian and talk-show host Steve Harvey said on Twitter. “What an incredible soldier in God’s Plan.”
Sad and shocked reactions also came from a diverse field that included Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, actresses Alexa Vega, Niecy Nash and Olivia Munn, and former boxing champion Lennox Lewis.
Duncan hinted at his health issues in a public service announcement released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in May.
Duncan said he was plagued with several illnesses before making the dietary change approximately three years ago.
The actor says watching film Meet Your Meet, about the process of animal protein production, helped him to decide to stop eating meat.
“I never knew what the process was from that animal to my plate,” he says. “Once I looked at an animal like that I cleared out my refrigerator of about $5,000 worth of meat.”