Michael Clarke Duncan, who rose from working as a ditch digger to employ his booming bass voice and immense physical presence in many movie roles, most notably a tragic prisoner with a healing touch in the 1999 film “The Green Mile,”died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 54.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.
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