How much was Bernie Mac worth?

Net Worth:$15 Million
Profession:Professional Comedian
Date of Birth:October 5, 1957
Country:United States of America
1.89 m

Who Is Bernie Mac

For many years, Bernie Mac was one of the best-kept secrets in comedy. A comic in the tradition of Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx, Mac’s style was intense, confrontational and profane, using stories from his life (often painful ones) as the source for humor. When he finally hit it big in 2000 as part of the Original Kings of Comedy, the country quickly embraced the honesty and pathos he injected into his rapid-fire verbal assaults. He told the truth and he made it funny.

American comedian, actor, and voice actor Bernie Mac had a net worth of $15 million dollars at the time of his death, in 2008.

Quick Facts:

  • Mac was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, IL.
  • He began his professional stand-up career at age 19.
  • He had his own sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show, from 2001 to 2006.
  • He appeared in several hit films, including Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, the Ocean’s 11 franchise and Transformers.
  • Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that affects body tissue including the lungs.
  • He died of complications from pneumonia in August of 2008.

A Hard Knocks Life

Bernie Mac, born Bernard Jeffrey McCullogh, was born on the South Side of Chicago on October 5, 1957. The son of a single working mother, Mac and family struggled through his childhood; it was this upbringing that would provide much of the inspiration for his comedy later in life. He found comedy early, putting on shows in parks and for neighborhood kids during high school. At 16, his mother died of cancer. Three years later in 1977, Mac began his comedy career with his first professional gig at Chicago’s Cotton Pickin’ Club. A new comedy star was born — though the rest of the world still had to catch up.

Becoming Bernie Mac

The same year that Mac entered the comedy circuit, he married his wife, Rhonda, who he remained with for 31 years. He and Rhonda moved to Tampa so he could pursue a comedy career, with Mac working a series of odd jobs to support himself during those years. An intense and sometimes profane performer, Mac refused to change his image for film and television work. As such, he struggled to find acting jobs throughout most of the 1980s. It wasn’t until the next decade that audiences would begin to become familiar with Bernie Mac.

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Breaking Out

In 1992, Mac got his first big break when he landed a small role in the Damon Wayans comedy Mo’ Money’. That led to a series of supporting roles in films like Who’s the Man?(1993), House Party 3(1994) and, most notably, the Chris Tucker/Ice Cube comedy Friday in 1995. That same year, Mac got his own late-night series on HBO, called Midnight Mac. The show, however, lasted only a month.

Mac continued to work in films through the rest of the ’90s, and got a recurring role on the sitcom Moesha. His stand-up career continued to build as well, with appearances on Def Comedy Jam bringing him attention. By the end of the decade, his career was ready to explode.

The Original Kings of Comedy

In 2000, Mac joined forces with fellow comics Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley and Cedric the Entertainer to form The Original Kings of Comedy. The result became the most successful comedy tour of all time, with the four comedians selling out theaters across the country.

The same year, director Spike Lee directed a tour documentary/concert film of The Original Kings of Comedy, called, appropriately enough, The Original Kings of Comedy. Mac, who performed last in the film, stole the show from the other comics with his intense delivery and stories about his family.

The Original Kings made Mac a superstar. Soon, he was getting roles in high profile Hollywood films like Charlie’s Angels 2 and the Ocean’s 11 series opposite George Clooney and Brad Pitt. In 2001, he got his own FOX sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show. The show was a hit and ran for five seasons.

Bernie Mac: Leading Man:

By 2004, Mac was no longer stuck in supporting parts. He played his first leading role in the baseball comedy Mr. 3000. The next year, he took the lead opposite Ashton Kutcher in the racially-reversed remake of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, simply called Guess Who.

Soul Men Review

Bernie Mac was a terrific screen presence who never found the right movie. He was effective in some supporting roles (like in Bad Santa and the Ocean’s 11 movies) and could be commanding in his leading roles. But movies like Mr. 3000 and Guess Who? watered Mac down too much, tying his hands with PG-13 ratings and “family” comedy; oddly enough, it was Mac’s TV sitcom that best reflected his edge and honesty.

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On paper, it would seem like his last film role, Soul Men (released a few months after his premature death in August of 2008), seems like the ideal part for the comedian. It’s the first R-rated comedy Mac has headlined, which is a big plus for a comic as brilliantly profane as Mac could be. It’s got lots of music and soul (fitting) and it’s about underdog entertainers making a comeback; though Mac never had to make a comeback, he did know something about being an underdog. All the pieces seem like they should be in place for one of Mac’s best films.

Sadly, Soul Men isn’t it. Yes, it’s R-rated, but it still lacks the edge of Mac’s stand-up. Mostly, it’s a bunch of lame Viagra and proctology jokes and f-bombs. Clean up the language a little and this could have been just another disposable, PG-13 comedy.

The Story

The film focuses on Mac and co-star Samuel L. Jackson, two backup singers from a successful 1970s soul outfit. When their lead singer dies, the estranged Mac (now a retired used car salesman) and Jackson (an ex-con) reunite for a cross-country road trip to perform at a tribute concert at New York’s Apollo Theater. Along the way, they encounter the daughter of their former lover (Sharon Leal, Dreamgirls) who may or may not be the daughter of one of the guys.

Soul Men has a good idea at its core, and a good pairing in Mac and Jackson. But director Malcolm D. Lee and writers Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone don’t know where to take the story. What begins as an updated, R-rated Odd Couple quickly gives way to a road movie, which quickly gives way to some mushy drama about family and friendship. There isn’t even any fish-out-of-water stuff, about two washed-up soul singers who can’t find a place in the modern music world. Worst of all, Mac has been rendered mostly toothless — relegated to bugging his eyes (even more than usual) and mugging for laughs. One wonders if the film wouldn’t have been improved by giving him the angrier Jackson role and really letting him off the leash.

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A Tribute to Mac

There are moments in the film that pay fitting tribute to the late Mac. Seeing him sing (both stars do their own singing, for better or worse) and dance in the film’s finale is a hoot, and some footage of the comedian entertaining the extras during some off time is included over the end credits. For the most part, we spend most of the movie being reminded of what a talent the world lost when Mac died, and how Soul Men isn’t a very good send-off.

The Soul Men DVD features a few more tributes to Mac (as well as Isaac Hayes, who appears in a cameo and who also died before the film’s release in 2008). There’s a brief featurette with the stars remembering Mac, intercut with the comedian reflecting on his own career and desire to entertain. The footage of Mac onstage that runs over the credits has been included in its entirety; though it amounts to only a few minutes of stand-up, it’s funnier than just about anything in the full 90 minutes of Soul Men.

Saying Goodbye

In 2007, Mac announced plans to retire from comedy after 30 years in the business, instead hoping to focus on films, producing and enjoying life. In August of 2008, however, Mac was hospitalized in his hometown of Chicago with pneumonia. Though he battled the illness for a week, he finally died of complications on August 9 of that year. He was 50 years old when he died.

Additional Facts

  • Mac was nominated for two Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards for his work on The Bernie Mac Show. He won four NAACP Image Awards for the series on was nominated for two more.
  • He won the Miller Lite Comedy Search in 1990.
  • Early in his career, he opened for Redd Foxx, Natalie Cole and Dionne Warwick.
  • He was ranked number 72 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 Greatest Stand-up Comics of All Time.
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