Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Fans mourn death of Michael Clarke Duncan with flowers, messages

September 6, 2012 |  4:25 am

Michael Clarke Duncan in "The Green Mile"

Michael Clarke Duncan's fans, who have built a growing memorial to the late actor outside his home, will be able to pay their respects at a Sunday service.

Flowers, candles, notes and cards were being left by fans and neighbors in front of Duncan's home.

"RIP Michael Clarke Duncan" and "We will miss you" were among the messages left. The Daily News has a collection of photos of the memorial at his home.

Sunday's service is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.

Duncan, 54, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a statement from his publicist, Joy Fehily. He had suffered a heart attack in July and did not recover.

Craig Harvey of the coroner's office said Tuesday that there was nothing to suggest officials needed to review the case. Officials noted Duncan had heart problems and was under medical care.

In such cases, it is normal for the doctor to sign the death certificate without any review by the coroner.

A former ditch digger for a natural gas company in his native Chicago, Duncan began his Hollywood saga as a celebrity bodyguard in the mid-1990s, according to his Times obituary. He received his first big acting break playing a member of the team sent into space to blow up an asteroid heading to Earth in the big-budget 1998 movie "Armageddon," starring Bruce Willis.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

But it was "The Green Mile," starring Tom Hanks as a death-row prison guard in a Louisiana penitentiary during the Depression, that thrust the 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound Duncan into the limelight. He portrayed John Coffey, a gentle giant with supernatural powers who was sentenced to death for the murder of two young white girls.

"There was something about him that I just couldn't ignore," writer-director Frank Darabont said of Duncan in a 2000 Daily Variety interview. "After his first reading, he kept haunting me. Given that he was a fairly inexperienced actor at that point, obviously there was a concern about 'Gee, how would this guy do?'

"But once we put him on film, it became apparent that he was up to the task."

Duncan was born Dec. 10, 1957, and grew up on Chicago's South Side. His father left the family when he was 6, and he and his sister were raised by their mother, who steered him clear of gangs, drugs and alcohol.

Growing up, he harbored dreams of becoming 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.

Besides his mother, Jean, and his sister, Judith, he is survived by his fiancee, actress Omarosa Manigault.


Franciscan manzanita added to U.S. endangered list

Cause of Southern California forest fire still a mystery

Inmate-guard sex presumed to be harassment, court says

-- Andrew Blankstein and Shelby Grad

Photo: Michael Clarke Duncan. Credit: Warner Bros.