Tragic news arrived this Labor Day: Oscar-nominated actor Michael Clarke Duncan has passed away at the age of 54. The news came from Duncan's fiancee, Reverend Omarosa Manigault, and his publicist, Joy Fehily. Duncan had suffered a heart attack on July 13 of this year. In her statement, Fehily says Duncan "never fully recovered."
The 6'5" star's muscular physique led to early typecasting as bodyguards and bouncers in films like Bulworth and A Night at the Roxbury, but made him the perfect choice to play death row inmate John Coffey in Frank Darabont's Oscar-nominated adaptation of Stephen King's The Green Mile. Duncan earned his only Academy Award nomination for his role in the Best Supporting Actor category. The notoriety and accolades that sprang from his performance led to more prominent parts in high profile films ranging from Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes to Daredevil, in which Duncan played Wilson Fisk, aka "The Kingpin," a supervillain role originally written as a white man. Duncan's performance was strong enough that the race issue was rarely a factor in fanboy discussions of the film.
Michael Clarke Duncan's later work varied between major studio projects (Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), voice-over work for film (Green Lantern) and video games (God of War II) and television roles on "The Finder" and "Two and a Half Men." Projects Duncan completed filming prior to his death included the drama In the Hive, co-starring Loretta Devine and Vivica Fox, and the fight film The Challenger.
Michael Clarke Duncan was a towering presence in the world of cinema in more ways than one. His formidable on-screen persona and the dignity he brought each of his roles will be missed.