LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, best known for his Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated role as a sensitive death row inmate in the 1999 film, “The Green Mile,” died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his fiancée and a publicist announced. He was 54. Duncan, whose most recent role was on the Fox TV series “The Finder,” had been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack July 13.
The imposing 6-foot-5, 300 pound actor with a deep, commanding voice also appeared in such films as “Armageddon,” the remake of “Planet of the Apes,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “Sin City” and “The Scorpion King.” He also voiced characters in the animated film “Kung Fu Panda” and the animated series “Spider-Man.”
Duncan was raised by a single mother on Chicago’s South Side and often told interviewers he concentrated on his studies to avoid drugs and alcohol.
He dreamed of becoming an actor while attending college, but instead found work digging ditches for the Peoples Gas Co. in Chicago. Later, Duncan worked as a bodyguard for rappers Will Smith, LL Cool J and The Notorious B.I.G. and actors Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx.
Duncan finally turned to acting in 1995 when he was in his 30s.
His breakout role in “The Green Mile,” was based on a Stephen King novel and co-starred Tom Hanks. Duncan played convicted murderer John Coffey, who was befriended by Hank’s character, a sympathetic corrections officer at a state penitentiary.
Duncan was engaged to reality TV star turned minister the Rev. Omarosa Manigault.
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