Michael Clarke Duncan Dies at 54: Tom Hanks and Other Stars React

Celebrity News Sep. 4, 2012 AT 9:00AM
Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan Tom Hanks and Michael Clarke Duncan Credit: Michael Buckner/Getty Images; JB Lacroix/WireImage.com

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, best known for his role in the 1999 film The Green Mile, passed away September 3 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A., his rep confirmed to Us Weekly.

Survived by his fiancee, two-time Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault, 38, the 54-year-old actor made many high-profile friends throughout his illustrious career in Hollywood. "I am terribly saddened at the loss of Big Mike," Duncan's former costar, Tom Hanks, 56, tells Entertainment Tonight in a statement. "He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of The Green Mile. He was magic. He was a big love of man and his passing leaves us stunned."

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The film's director, Frank Darabont, 53, also shared his grief with Us. "I'm devastated at the loss of Michael Clarke Duncan, one of the finest people I've ever had the privilege to work with or know. Michael was the gentlest of souls—an exemplar of decency, integrity and kindness. The sadness I feel is inexpressible," Darabont said in a statement.

In The Green Mile, Duncan played a convicted murderer with extraordinary healing powers. Hanks starred opposite Duncan as a corrections officer at a penitentiary in the 1930s.

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"Our experience making The Green Mile together was immersive and incredible, a once-in-a-lifetime journey. What sticks most in my mind was his devotion to his craft and the strides he made as an artist during that time, which was beyond inspiring to those of us who took the journey with him," Darabont added. "Never has an actor more richly deserved the recognition of an Academy Award nomination than Michael did for his performance as John Coffey."

Darabont told Us Duncan "has left us far, far too soon. We lost a great man and a great spirit today. My thoughts and condolences go out to his fiancee, Omarosa, and to his family."

Prior to his sudden passing, Duncan -- who suffered a heart attack July 13 -- appeared in many other box office hits, including Armageddon, Planet of the Apes, The Whole Nine Yards, Kung Fu Panda and Sin City.

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As news of Duncan's death spread September 3, celebrities flocked to Twitter to express their grief. "RIP Michael Clarke Duncan," Extra host Mario Lopez, 38, wrote. "One of the nicest and most professional guys I've had the pleasure of knowing. So sad."

Jordin Sparks, who recently made her big screen debut in the movie Sparkle, thanked the late actor "for being so kind to me and for sharing your talent with the world. You will be truly missed."

Newsroom actress Olivia Munn, 32, said "Michael Clarke Duncan always had a smile on his face and a big bear hug ready for you. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. RIP."

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Beauty and the Beast actress Kristin Kreuk, 29, said the late actor "was just the most gentle, kind giant of a man. He will be missed. Prayers to his family and loved ones. RIP."

Other stars who shared their memories of Duncan via Twitter included Sarah Hyland, David Boreanaz, Octavia Spencer, Gabrielle Union, Terry Crews, Phillip Phillips, Wendy Williams, Kaley Cuoco, Leslie Bibb, Niecy Nash, Michael Ealy, Rosario Dawson, Russell Simmons and Sherri Shepherd.

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