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'Green Mile' actor Duncan dead at 54

September 04, 2012

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan.–Photo by Reuter

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of a death row inmate in the 1999 drama “The Green Mile,” died in a hospital on Monday, less than eight weeks after suffering a heart attack, a spokeswoman said. He was 54.

Duncan died in Los Angeles, his fiance, reality television star Omarosa Manigault, said in a statement through Duncan's publicist.

He had a heart attack on July 13 and “never fully recovered,” publicist Joy Fehily said. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, she said.

Duncan's deep voice and hulking 6-foot-5 (1.96-metre) frame gave him a commanding screen presence. He once dug ditches for the gas company in his native Chicago, and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career as an actor.

He worked as a bodyguard and bouncer and played a few roles of that kind in film and television, before landing a small part in the 1998 movie “Armageddon.”

That led to his breakthrough performance came when he was cast as convict John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” a man wrongly accused of child murder and rape, who has supernatural powers. Tom Hanks co-starred as a prison guard.

Duncan's role in the film won him a supporting actor Oscar nomination. “Duncan's ... presence is literally and figuratively the biggest thing in the movie,” wrote Washington Post critic Desson Howe.

Beyond his Oscar nomination, Duncan also earned Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nods.

Duncan acted in about 50 films. He was notably featured in “Armageddon,” “The Scorpion King,” the 2003 comic book movie “Daredevil” and 2005 release “Sin City.” He also did voice work for the 2008 animated film “Kung Fu Panda.”

He starred this year in several episodes of the Fox crime drama “The Finder.”