Monday, August 11, 2008

Bernie Mac – 1957-2008

Bernie Mac has died.

Mr. Mac, an angry stage presence with a line of scabrous insults, parlayed his success as a stand-up comedian onto the big screen in a string of comedies that usually cast him as wily con men like Pastor Clever in “Friday” (1995) and Gin, the store detective in “Bad Santa” (2003). He also excelled playing short-tempered misanthropes, notably in his starring role as Stan Ross, the nation’s most hated baseball player, in “Mr. 3000” (2004).

In 2001, the Fox network took a gamble on “The Bernie Mac Show,” an unconventional family comedy in which Mr. Mac portrayed a childless married comedian who reluctantly takes in his sister’s three youngsters when she goes into a drug-treatment program.

The irascible Mr. Mac made a different kind of TV dad, “more Ike Turner than Dr. Spock,” Chris Norris wrote in a 2002 profile for The New York Times Magazine. Mr. Mac’s special style of tough love — “I’m gonna bust your head till the white meat shows,” he warned his surly teenage niece — set the show apart from other family sitcoms and raised a few critical eyebrows. But audiences saw enough of the character’s soft center to find the show touching.

“The success of my comedy has been not being afraid to touch on subject matters or issues that everyone else is politically scared of,” Mr. Mac told The Times in 2001. “It’s a joke, believe me. I’m not trying to hurt anybody.”

I hold him and his family in the Light.