Bernard Jeffrey “Bernie” McCullough, or Bernie Mac, was an American comedian and actor, born on October 5, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. After losing his mother at the age of 16, Mac would set up stand-up comedy shows for neighborhood kids and spent most of his 20s serving various jobs such as a Furniture Mover and a UPS Agent. He derived most of his influences from legends such as Nipsey Russell, Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, and admired centering his shows on themes pertaining to everyday life, marriage, parenting, family, race relations and racism. This dimension of comedy expands to other genres in satire that Mac was particularly fond of, including Observational Comedy, Black Comedy and Insult Comedy.
While Mac was widely recognized as a state-of-the-art comedian as well as a popular film star, his popularity initially grew after he participated in some low-profile comedy shows in local clubs. Around 1990, a performance on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam furthered his popularity amongst a growing number of fans in the domestic, as well as the international setting. After taking a supporting role in the 1994 comedy film House Party 3, Mac was recognized for his abilities by Ice Cube in his 1995 film Friday. This drove his presence in the U.S film industry in full throttle, as he was called for acting positions in close to 12 films until 2001. In the same year of 1995, he acted in trending films such as The Walking Dead and Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Two years down the line, Mac was acknowledged to have played stunning roles in the hit films How to Be a Player and Don King: Only in America. After gaining his first acting role in the 1998 classic The Players Club as the character ‘Dollar Bill’, Bernie Mac was now fully recognized as one of the most prominent and forthcoming comedian in Hollywood. In 2000, Mac starred as himself in the documentary The Original Kings of Comedy in which together with Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer, gave their own views about African-American culture, race relations, religion and family.
In 2001, Mac casted together with an ensemble crew including George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon in what was the first film in a tri-series, Ocean Eleven. In the years to follow, Mac was called up to star in Oceans Twelve (2004) and Oceans Thirteen (2007). In the same year, he was the host of the semi-autobiographical sitcom called The Bernie Mac Show, broadcasted by Fox Network. For this show, he was nominated twice for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. The show also managed to win other awards such as won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing, the Peabody Award for broadcasting, and the Humanitas Prize for television writing. The show was a major success, and perhaps the climax of Mac’s career, as he managed to communicate truly with the audience. One of his last major works came in 2004, when Mac played the role of a retired baseball player in the film Mr. 3000.
In 2008, after being admitted to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, Mac went had a cardiac arrest and died on August 9, 2008 at the age of 50.