MICHAEL CLARKE DUNCAN, ACTOR IN FILMS
Published: September 3, 2012
Ralph Nelson/Castle Rock Entertainment
Michael Clarke Duncan, center, as a death row inmate in “The Green Mile,” with David Morse, left, and Tom Hanks.
His fiancée, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault, said the cause was complications of a heart attack he had on July 13, his publicist, Joy Fehily, said.
Mr. Duncan was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his supporting role in “The Green Mile,” in which he played John Coffey, a mysterious stranger convicted of the rape and murder of two little girls in Louisiana in 1935. Janet Maslin, writing in The New York Times, referred to the “peculiar innocence” with which Mr. Duncan, who was 6-foot-5, imbued the character.
Mr. Duncan’s other movie parts included Bear, one of the deep-sea oil drillers who volunteer to save Earth by blowing up an asteroid, in the 1998 blockbuster “Armageddon.” He played small parts in many other movies, including “Planet of the Apes” (2001), “Daredevil” (2003), “Sin City” (2005), “The Whole Nine Yards” (2000) and “The Scorpion King” (2002).
He also lent his voice to animated movies like “Cats and Dogs” (2001); “Brother Bear (2003) and “Kung Fu Panda” (2008), as well as episodes of the television cartoon series “Family Guy.” The television shows on which he appeared included “Two and a Half Men” and “George Lopez.”
Mr. Duncan was born poor on the South Side of Chicago on Dec. 10, 1957. His father left when he was 5, and his mother and older sister raised him. He attended Kankakee Community College in Illinois and Alcorn State University in Mississippi, where he played football and basketball. He majored in communications, but returned to Chicago before receiving his diploma to help support his family.
Mr. Duncan worked as a ditch digger for the Peoples Gas Company, as a nightclub bouncer and even as a stripper, under the name Black Caesar. His mother, who had dreamed of becoming an actress, urged him to try acting, and he moved to Los Angeles, where he worked as a bodyguard for stars like Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx. That led to a succession of minor roles, many as a bouncer.
While filming “Armageddon,” Mr. Duncan struck up a friendship with his fellow cast member Bruce Willis, who called the director and screenwriter Frank Darabont, who was casting “The Green Mile,” based on a book by Stephen King, and recommended him for the part of Coffey. He got the part, and he then rose to what he characterized as a major challenge.
“I think the toughest scene for me to film was the two dead girls, simply because I had a lot of crying to do, a lot of howling to do, and it took a long time to do it and it really drained me,” he said in an interview with The Akron Beacon Journal in 1999.
“I’ll remember that day more so than anything else because as we were filming that, everybody was rushing toward me,” he continued. He said the scene seemed so real that he felt scared every time Mr. Darabont said, “Roll.”
Mr. Duncan narrated the Major League Baseball film on the 2005 World Series, which the Chicago White Sox won. He also appeared in a public service announcement about the importance of recognizing the early symptoms of strokes, and in a video for PETA, the animal rights organization, in which he spoke effusively about the positive change he experienced when he became a vegetarian.
In addition to his fiancée, who is best known for her appearances on Donald Trump’s reality show, “The Apprentice,” he is survived by his mother, Jean Duncan, and his sister, Judy Duncan.
Mr. Duncan enjoyed the fame that came with his many movie roles and his distinctive physical appearance. He was known to offer $5 to strangers on the street who could tell him what his full name was.
He told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis that when he learned of his Oscar nomination, he was so excited that he “could have taken on Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and the Rock.” The newspaper’s reporter suggested that he probably could have done that regardless of the Oscar.
“Not all at the same time, man,” he said.
JOE SOUTH, SINGER AND SONGWRITER
Published: September 5, 2012
- Joe South, a singer-songwriter who wove confrontational lyrics into bouncy pop hits of the late 1960s and early ’70s, including “Games People Play,” “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” and “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” died on Wednesday at home in Flowery Branch, Ga., north of Atlanta. He was 72.
The cause was apparently a heart attack, said Judy Thompson, a longtime friend.
Mr. South’s best-known song became a hit when it was recorded by someone else. “Rose Garden,” sung by Lynn Anderson, reached No. 3 on the Billboard pop chart in 1971, four years after Mr. South wrote it. The chorus — “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden/Along with the sunshine there’s gotta be a little rain sometime” — reflected a world-weariness characteristic of his writing.
In 1969 he targeted religion and insincerity in “Games People Play,” which thrust him toward stardom:
People walking up to you
Singing glory hallelujah,
And they’re tryin’ to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord.
It won a Grammy for song of the year in 1970.
Joseph Alfred Souter was born Feb. 28, 1940, in Atlanta. He changed his name years later after going into music.
Mr. South loved music and technology from an early age. His father gave him a guitar when he was 11, and he was performing on local radio by the age of 12. He built small radio stations of his own with limited signal range, partly so he could play his songs.
“He would even put it in his car and ride around so that the F.C.C. and anybody else couldn’t track him down,” said Butch Lowery, referring to the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Lowery’s father, Bill, ran a radio station and eventually became Mr. South’s publisher and manager.
In 1958 Mr. South had a modest novelty hit, “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor.” He played guitar for recording sessions in Nashville, Muscle Shoals, Ala., and elsewhere with a range of artists, including Bob Dylan (on his album “Blonde on Blonde”) and Aretha Franklin. Billy Joe Royal recorded several of his songs in the 1960s, including “Down in the Boondocks” and “I Knew You When,” before Mr. South established himself as a performer with some of the same songs. Elvis Presley played “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” in concert.
Mr. South is survived by a son, Craig, and a granddaughter. His first marriage ended in divorce. His second wife died in the late 1990s.
Mr. South largely disappeared from public view after his brother, Tommy, a drummer with whom he often recorded, committed suicide in 1971. In 2009 he released a new song for the first time in many years, “Oprah Cried.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
(Sept. 2, 1969)
(Sept. 3, 1991)
(Sept. 4, 1965)
(Sept. 7, 1969)
(Sept. 9, 1976)
(Sept. 11, 1971)
(Sept. 14, 1901)
(Sept. 15, 1989)
(Sept. 17, 1980)
(Sept. 18, 1964)
(Sept. 20, 1947)
(Sept. 25, 1933)
(Sept. 25, 1960)
(Sept. 27, 1956)
(Sept. 28, 1991)
(Sept. 28, 2000)
(Sept. 30 , 1959)