Michael Clarke Duncan — best known for his Oscar-nominated role as a death row inmate who possessed magical healing powers in the 1999 film “The Green Mile” — died on Monday at the age of 54, according to his fiancee Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
Duncan had been in a Los Angeles hospital since July 13 following a heart attack and died on Monday morning after close to two months of treatment.
At 6-feet, 5-inches tall and approximately 300 pounds, Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his role as gentle giant prisoner John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” also starring Tom Hanks. Duncan won the role, in part, due to a recommendation by Bruce Willis, who he worked with on 1998’s “Armageddon.” Duncan went on to appear with Willis in three more films — “Breakfast of Champions,” “The Whole Nine Yards” and “Sin City.”
Before he broke into acting, Duncan worked as a bodyguard for stars including Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G. — whose 1997 death prompted him to quit that line of work.
Duncan’s career spanned three decades and included roles in other television and film titles including “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Married with Children,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Living Single,” “Bulworth,” “Arli$$,” “A Night at the Roxbury,” “Sister, Sister,” “Planet of the Apes,” “CSI: NY,” “Talladega Nights,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Bones,” and most recently “The Challenger,” which is yet to be released.
Duncan was a prolific voice-over actor as well, lending his rumbling baritone to animated characters in “Kung Fu Panda,” “King of the Hill,” “Family Guy,” “Green Lantern,” and many others. The African American actor also played The Kingpin in 2003’s “Daredevil,” starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner — a notable achievement seeing as the character in the original comics, on which the film is based, was always depicted as being white.
“The Green Mile” was nominated for four Oscars in 2000 and won 15 other awards including best supporting actor trophies for Duncan from the Black Reel Awards and the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.
Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side and brought up by a single mother, Duncan is said to have resisted temptations of drugs and alcohol, instead focusing on school and acting. He worked digging ditches after attending community college, according to his biography on IMDb.com, then quit his job and moved to Hollywood, launching his acting career while in his thirties. More than three years ago, Duncan is said to have become a vegetarian, and appeared in a video for animal rights organization PETA earlier this year.