Bernie Mac Dead At 50

Actor was hospitalized for pneumonia last week.

Bernie Mac, the actor and comedian who worked his way to stardom from humble beginnings on Chicago’s tough South Side, died early Saturday at the age of 50, according to The Associated Press.

“Actor/comedian Bernie Mac passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital,” his publicist, Danica Smith, said in a statement. She said no other details were available and requested that his family’s privacy be respected. Earlier this week she had said reports of Mac’s serious illness were overstated and that he was expected to make a full recovery.

In recent years, Mac (real name: Bernard Jeffery McCullough) had battled an inflammatory lung disease known as sarcoidosis, which causes inflammation in the lungs, lymph nodes and other organs. It had been in remission since 2005, and Smith had said Mac’s pneumonia was not related to it.

In addition to his appearance in last year’s hit “Transformers,” Mac had recently been working on the TV series “Starting Under,” as well as several films, including the Samuel L. Jackson flick “Soul Men” (slated for release later this year) and the John Travolta comedy “Old Dogs,” which is scheduled for a 2009 release. The status of those films was unclear at press time.

Recently Mac made headlines when he attended a Barack Obama fundraiser and made a few lighthearted comments about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. “I’m proud of him because politics is dirty, especially with Republicans,” he said. “People like rumors. They are going to say things like, you know, ‘You was in the club with Lil’ Kim, and you and Kanye West got in a fistfight.’ ” The comments garnered a rebuke from Obama’s campaign.

Mac (Bernard Jeffrey McCullough) was born on October 5, 1957, in Chicago, and grew up on the city’s South Side, according to AP. His first standup performance was at a church dinner when he was 8, and he began doing standup at clubs in Chicago at 20. His film career began with a small role in “Mo’ Money” in 1992. Mac went on to appear in the “Ocean’s 11″ films with Brad Pitt and George Clooney, “Guess Who” with Ashton Kutcher, “Bad Santa,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and other films.

Mac is perhaps best known for his Fox television series “The Bernie Mac Show,” which aired from 2001 to 2006. The series, about a man’s adventures raising his sister’s three children, won a Peabody Award in 2002, and earned Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Mac. He also was nominated for a Grammy award for best comedy album in 2001, with his “The Original Kings of Comedy” co-stars, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer.

Mac is survived by his wife, Rhonda McCullough, their daughter, Je’Niece, a son-in-law and a granddaughter.