J. Terrill, File
Here at Legacy.com, based in the Chicago area, we make no secret of loving Chicagoans: Dennis Farina and John Belushi, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, Koko Taylor and Bo Diddley, Studs Terkel and Gwendolyn Brooks…. We always have a soft spot for a home-towner who’s made good, and one of our all-time favorites is comedian and actor Bernie Mac.
Born in Englewood on Chicago's south side (a neighborhood Chaka Khan, Derrick Rose and Jennifer Hudson have also called home), Mac held jobs at General Motors and Wonder Bread before tiring of the daily grind and beginning to pursue a career in comedy. His first big break came at an open mike night at Chicago’s Cotton Club. Within a few years he had won a city-wide comedy talent search and was on his way to nationwide fame via HBO's Def Comedy Jam. His standup success brought him movie roles and his very own TV show, putting him in the homes of millions of viewers who loved laughing with him.
Bernie Mac was very young – only 50 years old – when he died of pneumonia on August 9, 2008. We should have been able to enjoy a lot more years of Mac on television, making us laugh like he did in his hilarious and eponymous series, The Bernie Mac Show.
And we should have been able to see him continue his path to movie stardom. He was fantastic in Ocean's Eleven – and Twelve and Thirteen, too.
The Bernie Mac movies released after his death proved that there was more great stuff in store from the comedian. Three of his funniest movies were released posthumously – Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Old Dogs and Soul Men. In the latter, Mac got to prove that he was more than just a funny guy – he could sing, too.
We should have had so many more chances to enjoy Bernie Mac's work – but we thank him for leaving us laughing.
Written by Linnea Crowther