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Tue, 12.10.1957

Michael Clarke Duncan showed a quiet strength

Michael Clarke Duncan

*Michael Clarke Duncan was born this date in 1957. He was a Black laborer, bodyguard and Academy Award nominated actor.

Duncan grew up on Chicago's South Side.  His father left the family when he was 6; his mother raised him and his sister, Judith, to stay clear of gangs, drugs and alcohol.  Growing up, he wanted to become an actor. "Of course, people told me, 'Mikey, you will never be an actor. You don't have the look. You're ugly,'" he recalled in a 2003 Chicago Sun-Times interview. What helped him, he said, was that his mother "always told me to think 'YCDA.' That stands for 'You Can Do Anything.'"

After high school, Duncan attended Alcorn State University in Mississippi but left before graduating to help support his ailing mother. Back in Chicago, he began working for the gas company as a ditch-digger.  On the job, he talked so much about his dream of going to Hollywood and becoming an actor that his co-workers dubbed him "Hollywood Mike."

He finally quit his job and became a security guard for a traveling show. Once the show reached Los Angeles, he decided to stay. Working first as a bodyguard for Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and other actors, he began landing small parts in films and television. In 1998, he played bouncers in "Bulworth" and "A Night at the Roxbury" and a bodyguard in "The Players Club." While making "Armageddon," Duncan became friends with Smith, who was instrumental in getting him the role in Darabont's adaptation of Stephen King's serial novel "The Green Mile."  There he was the tall and massively built actor with the shaved head and deep voice who received an Academy Award nomination for his moving portrayal of a gentle death row inmate in the 1999 prison drama.

Michael Clarke Duncan, died on September 3rd 2012; he was 54.  Duncan died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to a statement from his publicist, Joy Fehily.  He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover. Besides his mother, Jean, and his sister, Judith, his fiancée, actress Omarosa Manigault, survives him.

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