US comedian Bernie Mac, who played an ex-felon blackjack dealer in the Ocean's Eleven series and had his own sitcom on television, has died at 50, his publicist said Saturday.
The star of the critically acclaimed The Bernie Mac Show succumbed several days after being hospitalized for pneumonia which arose from a longstanding lung ailment, sarcoidosis, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Danica Smith told People magazine.
"[He] passed away this morning from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago area hospital," Smith said. "No other details are available at this time."
Born in Chicago on October 5, 1957, Bernard Jeffrey McCullough got his start in the city's African-American comedy clubs, and broke into the big time after winning a national comedy contest in 1989.
His reputation grew after he made it to the HBO hit show Def Comedy Jam, pitching his wry, pointed style at audiences of all colors.
"If you let people put tags on you, you'll never be able to remove them," he told the Chicago Tribune last year.
In the semi-autobiographical Bernie Mac Show, a hit for Fox television from 2001 to 2006, he plays a man charged with taking care of his sister's three children after she is sent for rehabilitation.
In 2001 he featured next to Brad Pitt and George Clooney as a casino card dealer in Ocean's Eleven and returned in the subsequent two sequels.
He also featured in the 2003 film Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and was a car salesman in last year's hit Transformers. He also had a major part in Old Dogs, the Robin Williams-John Travolta comedy scheduled for release in 2009.
The Chicago Tribune said he is survived by his wife Rhonda McCullough and a daughter, Je'Niece.
20th Century Fox's Official Statement:
"Bernie Mac was a gifted talent whose comedy came from an authentic and highly personal place. He was a tremendous live performer and a wonderful actor. FOX was proud to be the home of "The Bernie Mac Show," and all of us at FOX and 20th Century Fox Television extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Rhonda and daughter JeNiece."