Michael Clarke Duncan, the big actor with the even bigger smile, best known for his role as gentle giant John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” has died today, September 3, 2012, according to his fiancée, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. He was 54.
Duncan was hospitalized in Los Angeles after a heart attack on July 13. (See video at top of article.) He was still recovering after almost two months of treatment. Omarosa said she left the room for a short time and when she returned, he was gone.
Easily recognizable by his size, the 6′ 5″, 315-pound actor appeared in dozens of films, but will always be remembered for his role as John Coffey, the convicted murderer in 1999’s “The Green Mile,” based on a novel by Stephen King. That film also starred Tom Hanks.
Michael Clarke Duncan was born December 10, 1957 in Chicago. He wanted to act as long as he could remember, but had to drop out of school to help support the family when his mom became ill. His size led to jobs like digging ditches and being a bouncer at area clubs.
He moved to Los Angeles and became a body guard for performers such as Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and Notorious B.I.G. The death of Notorious B.I.G. in 1997 led him to think about acting again.
Duncan won a part in the 1998 film “Armageddon.” He struck up a friendship with actor Bruce Willis which led to his casting as John Coffey in “The Green Mile.” He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Role in a Motion Picture.
After “The Green Mile,” Duncan was in many movies that established the big guy as a household name.
- “The Whole Nine Yards”
- “Planet of the Apes”
- “The Scorpion King”
- “The Island”
- “The Kingpin”
- “Sin City”
Duncan lent his deep voice to a number of roles, such as “Brother Bear,” “Brother Bear 2,” “The Land Before Time XI: Invasion of the Tinysauruses” and commercials for Quiznos. He is the voice of Atlas, the Titan in the video game “God of War II.”
He appeared in television shows like “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” “Two and a Half Men,” “CSI: NY” and “Bones.” The role of Leo Knox in “Bones” got him a starring rol in a spinoff series, “The Finder.”
Since news of Duncan’s death was announced, Hollywood celebrities have been tweeting their condolences. To hear them tell it, there wasn’t a nicer or kinder guy in Hollywood.