4 Years Ago Today- Missing the Mac Man

Posted on August 9, 2012

Today is the sad anniversary of the passing of a Chicago guy made good- a funny man who left us far too soon- Bernie Mac. I remember it all too well- it was four years ago, and I was on vacation in Michigan. I had one of the local radio stations on, which was fading in and out as I was driving-and I caught the announcer talking about some sad news- then caught the name "Bernie Mac"- but not much more.Later on that day, I finally got the full story- that Bernie, who had been hospitalized recently but was reported to be recovering, had indeed passed away from pneumonia complications relating to sarcoidosis, which he had suffered from for years. I remember the day I first met Bernie-he was in to be a guest on one of the station's shows, and being a fan, I had come down to the studio to just to say hello.I think we had just started running his "Bernie Mac Show" on WCIU at the time.I was surprised when he looked at me and said "I know you!" He recognized me, mainly because he was a big fan of the 3 Stooges, and watched our "Stooge-a-palooza" show (he joked about how, whenever he put it on, his wife would ask him "why are you watching that stuff again?") When I invited him to come co-host a Stooges show with me sometime, he laughed and said- "call my name, and I'll be there!" He did indeed come back to record a Stooge-a-palooza show with us- and we had a great time,as he gave his opinions on the Stooges, especially stressing how Moe wouldn't have lasted long if he had tried his bullying bossiness on Bernie.(You might remember that Bernie did a skit on one of the sketch comedy shows,I think it was "Saturday Night Live", in which he was working with the Stooges and took none of Moe's guff!) We discussed his favorite Stooge films, his least favorite Stooge (once again, apologies to Joe Besser!) and gave his insights on why the Stooges' comedy worked, and still is effective today. We even engaged in some Stooge slapstick (with me pretty much on the losing end!)He appeared to have had a great time taping with us, and said he'd be happy to do it again- but, cruel fate ended up keeping that from happening. When Bernie passed away, our station put together a touching tribute show to him- with many Chicago personalities and friends who knew him talking about this man, Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, born and raised in Chicago,who fought his way up from a tough neighborhood,who refused to change his act and personality for TV and movies,because he felt his life and experiences in Chicago had made him the man he was, and that shouldn't change-but whose talent eventually had the media catch up with him. He was among the elite group of black comics known as "the Original Kings of Comedy", and his many film roles showed that he could act just as well as he could do stand up comedy. He was a kind and friendly man, very modest in spite of his success- and I recall , when I first met him, and we were talking, and I congratulated him on his success, which he brushed off by saying " I've still got a lot to do." He did a lot- and I only wish he could have had the chance to do more. Don't forget that I'm at the Flashback Weekend horror convention this Saturday! I'll go over the details again for you tomorrow...

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