Michael Clarke Duncan, the hulking, prolific character actor whose dozens of films included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death-row inmate in “The Green Mile” and such other box office hits as “Armageddon,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Kung Fu Panda,” is dead at age 54.
Clarke died Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA, where he was being treated for a heart attack, said his fiancee, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault, in a statement released by publicist Joy Fehily.
The muscular, 6-foot-4 Duncan, a former bodyguard who turned to acting in his 30s, “suffered a myocardial infarction on July 13 and never fully recovered,” the statement said. “[Omarosa] Manigault is grateful for all of your prayers and asks for privacy at this time. Celebrations of his life, both private and public, will be announced at a later date.”
Manigault, a Youngstown native who graduated from The Rayen School in 1992, is best known for her stint on the television show “The Apprentice.”
She has appeared in Youngstown on several occasions, most recently in 2011 at the Greater Warren-Youngstown Urban League’s annual banquet and at the sentencing of her brother’s killer this year.
Jack Manigault was killed by Marco Cardenas in October 2011. Omarosa was in attendance, but did not speak, when a Mahoning County judge sentenced Cardenas to 21 years to life in prison.
A former White House aide in the Clinton administration, Omarosa is active in ministry in the LA area.
In the spring 2012, Clarke had appeared in a video for PETA, the animal-rights organization, in which he spoke of how much better he felt since becoming a vegetarian three years earlier.
“I cleared out my refrigerator, about $5,000 worth of meat,” he said. “I’m a lot healthier than I was when I was eating meat.”
Duncan had a handful of minor roles before “The Green Mile” brought him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.
The 1999 film, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, starred Tom Hanks as a corrections officer at a penitentiary in the 1930s.
Duncan played John Coffey, a convicted murderer with a sur- prisingly gentle demeanor and extraordinary healing powers.
Duncan’s performance caught on with critics and moviegoers.
He quickly became a favorite in Hollywood, appearing in several films a year.
He owed some of his good fortune to Bruce Willis, who recommended Duncan for “The Green Mile” after the two appeared together in “Armageddon.” Clarke would work with Willis again in “Breakfast of Champions,” “The Whole Nine Yards” and “Sin City.”