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Actor Michael Clarke Duncan dead at 54

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan died at the age of 54. File photo
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan died at the age of 54. File photo

Michael Clarke Duncan, an Academy Award nominated actor for 1999’s “The Green Mile,” died on Monday due to complications from a heart attack.  He was 54.

A beloved character actor by fans and fellow actors alike, Duncan had been hospitalized since his heart attack on July 13.  Diagnosed as a myocardial infarction, the actor had been receiving treatments until his death.  He leaves behind his fiancee Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, a former contestant on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

In a career that spanned close to three decades, Michael Clarke Duncan was well-known for his physicality.  Towering at 6 feet 4 inches tall and over 300 pounds, Duncan’s frame helped him to obtain work as a bodyguard for actors like Will Smith and Jamie Foxx.

He quit the line of work in 1997 after the death of the Notorious B.I.G.  Shortly after quitting his job, Duncan found his calling as an actor.

Starting with his role in the 1998 blockbuster “Armageddon,” Michael Clarke Duncan was well-regarded for giving his characters his big heart and gentle spirit. Duncan’s charm was most on display in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “The Green Mile.”  As John Coffey, a prison row inmate who has a profound and magical impact on the guards of a death row penitentiary, Duncan gave a powerful performance that garnered him critical raves and his only Oscar nomination.

Michael Clarke Duncan parlayed his “Green Mile” success into roles in numerous films, including “Talladega Nights:  The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” “Sin City” and “The Whole Nine Yards.”  Duncan also took on the role of the Kingpin in the critically-maligned “Daredevil,” a role that was generally depicted as a white man in the comics.

Along with his size and kind-heartedness, Michael Clarke Duncan was also recognizable for his booming voice, which he memorably put to use in voice-over roles in films like “Brother Bear,” “Green Lantern,” “Cats and Dogs” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

A veteran of films for over fifteen years, the end of Michael Clarke Duncan’s career saw a turn to television, led by a guest arc on “Two and a Half Men” and a regular role on Fox’s “Bones” spinoff “The Finder.”  Duncan played Leo Knox, a former attorney, on the show that aired earlier this year.  It was cancelled in May.

A big influence on a new generation of African-American actors, Michael Clarke Duncan will be remembered for his kind heart and gentle spirit.  With a few films still to be released, we have not yet seen the last of the charming and talented Michael Clarke Duncan.

About the Author

Nick Keeley

Nick Keeley is a Chimes staff writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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