We first got to know Bernard Jeffrey McCullough (Bernie Mac) in the early nineties through his performances on HBO’s Def Comedy Jam. He made me us laugh back then but so did many other performers on the show. Eventually, he began to pop up in movie roles and his face became familiar over the years. As time wore on, Bernie Mac first began to show up in our living rooms on a weekly basis through his role on singer Brandy Norwood’s acting vehicle Moesha (1996 – 2001). After his stint on Moesha was over he started landing bigger roles that placed him before a more diverse audience.
By the time that 2001 rolled around, Bernie Mac’s name had become officially recognized, and the entertainment industry rewarded him with his own television show. The Bernie Mac Show (2001 – 2005) was an immediate hit with black audiences and eventually the wider viewing audience caught on to the show as well. In his self titled show, Bernie Mac played a responsible father figure to his basically neglected nieces and nephew. The show was loosely based on Bernie Mac’s real life experiences. The show featured lots of laughable moments but there was always some kind of important life lesson reflected by the time each episode concluded.
On August 9, 2008 Bernard Jeffrey McCullough lost his life. He succumbed to complications from an inflammatory lung disease called sarcoidosis. His unexpected death saddened people across the country and it was reminiscent of another untimely demise; comedic actor Robin Harris. Bernie Mac’s memory will live on in the annals of Hollywood history. Indeed he is forever gone but he will never be forgotten. We loved Bernie Mac because he was clever, he was down to earth, and above all, he made us laugh.
Put these Bernie Mac projects into your Netflix queue so that you can reflect on his comedic legacy:
Friday (1995) – Bernie Mac has a small role in this very funny film as the corrupt Pastor Clever. Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Nia Long, and Regina King round out the cast of this classic modern comedy.
Players Club (1998) – Bernie plays Dollar Bill, a money hungry pimp who winds up getting his just reward after he exploits his workers and tries to cheat a loan shark. Jamie Foxx, Ice Cube, John Amos and LisaRaye McCoy star alongside Bernie Mac in this adult oriented movie.
The Original Kings of Comedy (2000) – This is the project that catapulted Bernie Mac into nationwide stardom. He does a very funny stand up routine alongside comic greats Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer. Spike lee directed this project.
The Bernie Mac Show: Season 1 (2001) – If you’re not familiar with Bernie Mac’s television show, put this 4 disc set into your queue and then you’ll get to know it well. Kellita Smith plays his wife and Camille Winbush, Dee Dee Davis, and Jeremy Suarez portray his nieces and nephew.
Life(1999) – Bernie plays imprisoned homosexual Jangle Leg in this film. This is probably my favorite Bernie Mac character because he portrayed the serious parts of the character very well. As expected, he played the funny parts to perfection as well, especially when he meets Marin Lawrence’s character and he says to him “Yo’ hand is nice and supple, like a lady!” Bernie stars with Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Ned Beatty, and Obba Babatunde. This film was directed by Ted Demme.
Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its sequels Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007) – These films are based on the original of the same name, Ocean’s Eleven (1960), starring Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Shirley MacLaine. Bernie plays Frank Catton in this heist caper film. These movies also star George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle, and Catherine Zeta Jones. Not all of these actors reprised their roles in every sequel but Bernie Mac appeared in all three films.
These are just a few of the films that made Bernie Mac an unforgettable Hollywood icon. Bernie Mac’s memory will live on in the celluloid world.