Comedian and actor Bernie Mac, who portrayed aging Brewers slugger Stan Ross in the movie "Mr. 3000," died Saturday morning after a bout with pneumonia.
Mac, best known for his work on "The Bernie Mac Show," the "Ocean's 11" movies and with the "Kings of Comedy" tour, was 50.
The Chicago native, born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, was hospitalized Aug. 1. Though he had suffered from a chronic tissue inflammation called sarcoidosis, his publicist said the recent illness was unrelated to that disorder, which reportedly had been in remission since 2005.
"Bernie was one of those guys who brought joy into your house," Brewers centerfielder Mike Cameron said. " Whenever I'd be looking for a laugh, I look for Bernie on TV. I'll always remember him from the 'Kings of Comedy.' It's sad to see him go at such a young age."
After experiencing success on the standup circuit and with the "Kings of Comedy," Mac began his eponymous sitcom in 2001 on the Fox network. He portrayed a comedian whose sister went to rehab and left him guardian over her three children.
In the summer of 2003, Mac began filming "Mr. 3000," much of which was shot at Miller Park. For a period that summer, a banner featuring Mac's character, Stan Ross, hung from the atrium above the home plate entrance.
In the movie, Ross was a selfish, arrogant player who retired -- in the middle of a pennant race -- after recording what he thought was his 3,000th hit. Nine years later, officials discovered a clerical error that showed that Ross was three hits shy of the mark.
Ross, who was 47 at the time, returned to the game to get three more hits so that his post-playing marketing empire would not be rendered irrelevant. Ross is added to roster for the final month of the season, mainly to draw fans, and he teaches the young players a lesson about teamwork.
In the wake of Mac's death, E! Online ran a series of quotes from friends and co-stars:
Brad Pitt: "I lament the loss of a ferociously funny and hardcore family man. My thoughts are with [his wife] Rhonda and their family. Bernie Mac, you are already missed."
George Clooney: "The world just got a little less funny. He will be dearly missed."
Chris Rock: "Bernie Mac was one of the best and funniest comedians to ever live, but that was the second best thing he did. Bernie was one of the greatest friends a person could have. Losing him is like losing 12 people because he absolutely filled up any room he was in. I'm gonna miss the Mac Man."
Cedric the Entertainer: "It's hard to put into words just how I feel and what a painful loss this is. Bernie was a brother, a friend and one of the comic masters of our time. Sharing the marquee with him during the phenomenon of the Kings of Comedy tour bonded us like family, and created a unique moment in comic history marking some of the most meaningful, memorable and fun times of our lives. His comedic approach was his own brand and will definitely stand the test of time. The level of his talent always inspired me and other comedians to 'bring their A-game.' I promise you that you never wanted to be the guy who had to follow Bernie's set! As a husband and father, he was THE MAN and my thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will truly be missed, but so well remembered."
Don Cheadle: "This is a very sad day for many of us who knew and loved Bernie. He brought so much joy to so many. He will be missed, but heaven just got funnier."
Kelly Preston and John Travolta: "We are heartbroken. He will be deeply missed. He was a wonderful, kind and gentle man."
"Ocean's Eleven" co-star Carl Reiner: "It's a tremendous loss because of his age and the fact that he was such a vital, original human being. When I use the word 'original' I really mean it. He was like no other person I knew. He lived his life to the fullest, even when we were on the set of "Ocean's." He had his own little apartment and he cooked and invited people to lunch every day and he had food that was for everybody. He made very exotic things. His conversations were always different than any conversations I had with anyone else. They were very family-oriented; he talked about his wife and children with such love and it's very hard to believe that he's not with us anymore."
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.