Bernie Mac’s Homegoing Service

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Hat Tip: By Kelly Carter and Mary Owen, Chicago Tribune

Thousands of fans of late comedian Bernie Mac streamed into a South Side memorial service Saturday to hear Hollywood and political celebrities remember a Chicagoan who made people laugh on both TV and the big screen.

Mac’s fellow “Original Kings of Comedy” brought the house down as they broke down in tears, unable to contain their grief. In the same sentence, Cedric the Entertainer, Steve Harvey and D.L. Hughley would flip a joke, causing the crowd to scream in laughter.

“This dude is a very popular guy,” Cedric said of Mac. “You know y’all were like `let me get four tickets to the funeral!’ He’s still the hottest ticket in town.”

Hughley recalled Mac’s well-known taste in clothes. “Bernie would wear colors that crayon hadn’t even invented,” he said.

Rev. Jesse Jackson told the audience “Bernie Mac is a serious funnyman” who loved his family and cared about the tomorrow’s youth. Jackson recalled that Mac recently told students at Crane High School that they should “live above their circumstances” and not “self-destruct.”

“Between birth and death is a dash,” Jackson said. “But between that dash between birth and death, he made a statement.”

Mac, a 50-year-old funnyman, died a week ago from complications due to pneumonia after being hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in tissue, most often in the lungs.

Oprah Winfrey, Sen. Barack Obama. Rep. Maxine Waters and the O’Jays sent their condolences.

“Michelle and I were so deeply sad to hear about your loss. … He … (made) us laugh and laugh hard,” read Obama’s statement.

Obama went on to write that Mac could say things others couldn’t. “Bernie Mac will be sorely missed,” he wrote.

Actor Samuel L. Jackson is scheduled to speak in the second hour of the service, organizers said. Jackson is set to star with Mac and singer Isaac Hayes, who also died last weekend, in the December movie “Soul Man.”

Mayor Richard Daley recalled Mac coming to City Hall a few weeks ago to take photos with employees. Mac wanted to talk about the 2016 Olympics, but more importantly, recent gun violence against the city’s youth, Daley said.

“He represented Chicago in a way (that) he knew the street, he knew the people and that’s why he’s the king of comedy,” Daley said. “He wanted to do something personally to get children away from the life of violence … he had a heart and passion … That’s why as the king of comedy, he never lost his soul in Chicago.”

Actor Andy Garcia, who starred with Mac in “Ocean’s 11,” sent along remarks, saying “I’ll see you upstairs.” Don Cheadle, another actor from that film, was in attendance.

Comic and actor Chris Rock also took the stage.

As part of the acknowledgments, they aired a tribute to both Mac and Hayes, playing snippets of some of Mac’s famous comedy routines — the profanity was bleeped out — over some of Hayes’ more famous compositions.

Inside the church, rows of burgundy-colored soft cushion chairs were set up in front of the stage. On either side of the stage, two large projector screens flashed photos of Bernie Mac’s life. The photos showed film stills from Mac’s career, red carpet photos from events like the Golden Globes and private moments with friends and family members.

Large floral arrangements adorned the pulpit, and boxes of tissues were placed sporadically throughout the worship hall while piped-in gospel music boomed from speakers. “When I Call on Jesus” was one of the songs played. Some fans who were seated in the permanent pews — the front rows were reserved for friends and family — wore silk-screened t-shirts printed with Mac’s face.

The crowd inside cheered and clapped when new celebrities arrived. People took photos and hugged celebrities that they were able to call over.

Some people slept outside overnight to guarantee a place inside the 10,000-seat House of Hope at 752 E. 114th St. Doors opened at 10:30 a.m. for a memorial that began about a half-hour after its scheduled noon start.

People caravaned to the event and others arrived in chartered or school buses. Traffic backed up on the Dan Ryan at the 115th Street exit.

Out in the nearly-full parking lot, vendors sold t-shirts that read “In memory of Bernie Mac” for $10.

“This shows support … from the whole Chicago area and how much he will be missed,” said Pamela Gordon of Chicago, one of hundreds of people who lined up hours before the memorial started.

“He was a good man, a beautiful husband and he was real,” she added. “And he was handsome, honey.”

Vera Gordon said she came to pay tribute to the comedian who made her mother, who suffers from dementia, laugh.

“She watched the `Bernie Mac Show’ every night,” Vera Gordon said of her mother, Margaret Berston, 79. “She would just sit there and laugh. You could see the sadness when I told her. I came here to represent my mother.”

She said Mac had a gift for highlighting and shining humor on life’s most simple interactions and challenges. “He was very special,” she said. “It’s like God sent him here on a mission. He left something here that will never be forgotten.”

Joseph Gilmore, 35, of Chicago, said Mac was like family.

“Him dying was like losing an uncle or brother,” said Gilmore, who remembers seeing Mac perform stand-up at the Chicago Theatre 15 years ago. “He made himself very personal with the people he was entertaining.”

Bernie Mac’s late-breaking but rising career included a self-titled TV series that ran for several years and movie roles in “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” and “Transformers.”

D.L. Hughley’s remarks at the funeral:

Cedric the Entertainer’s remarks at the funeral:

13 thoughts on “Bernie Mac’s Homegoing Service

  1. Kit,

    I’m sure he did, hon. BTW, I added you to my links. Thanks for the complement and the encouragement. Your blog is great and I hope to dialog with you in the future.

  2. I am very sad about the passing of Bernie Mac, He was one of the most talented comedians of our times. I am going to miss him very much. When i learned of his pasting it heard my heart because, I losed My husband in 2006 suddenly he was when to the hosiptal just for simple treatment, 15 minutes later he was gone. I know How Mrs. Mac feel. My Prayers, and Heart goes out to her and, her family.

  3. I jusy want the family to he was love by all and he will be miss and we know he is in a better place may he rest in peace and those of us left behind go forward and do something to make him proud

  4. Brenda Lee

    Bernie Mac what can I say that people haven’t already said. An Awesome Man who touched everyone he came in contact with. I still laugh when I see his shows. Bernie and I are somewhat alike, I say what I mean and mean what I say and he is that same person. He will be deeply miss but will live in our “Hearts forever”.
    I just want to say Heaven won’t be the same. You have so many Talented People there, (Heaven) you know no one is going to sleep now. We have Bernie Mac, Issac Hayes, Gerald Levert, Barry White, Luther Vandross and lets not forget Rick James, and Ray Charles just to name a few. They have bust Heaven wide open with the Greatest. God won’t be able to keep his composure now. He’s being entertained for free. God you couldn’t have picked a better bunch!
    May the Family find Peace in the Remembrance of your Love one, we all know that our love ones are just here with us temporarily and when it’s time to go home We shall rejoice that the right choice have been made by the Almighty! May you find Peace! God Bless… Barber Family 2008

  5. Barbra, North Side Chicago

    I wonder if the family of Bernie Mac would consider selling copies of his service on DVD as a funding/donation resource for his Sarcoidis Foundation. I, for one would be honored to puchase the memory while contributing to the cause. Can you possibly recommend this suggestion?

    I have no intent to offend, I honestly believe many people would love to treasure this moment along with the many film DVD’s of Bernie Mac’s short but PHENOMENAL life. We will miss him terribly.

  6. Malik7

    Bernie, we’ll all miss you!! Thank you for giving us years of entertainment and for making us laugh.

    You were a joy to watch on TV and in the many movies that you’ve done over the years!! You’re in a better place now and your spirit and lagacy will live on forever!!

    ~Malik7.

  7. Mary

    Mr.Mac was so inspiring to me, he was an role model also.I love watching the t.v show there’s a lesson to learn in every one them. You’ll be miss but never forgotten, your fan forever always.

  8. Rena

    I had the pleasure of attending Chicago Vocational High School (I was a freshman, Bernie and Rhonda were Seniors). My sincerest condolences to you Rhonda and Je’Neice. Bernie has a new job now and that is to be your guardian angel until you are called Home. Rest In Peace, Cavalier!

  9. Riante Blake

    If you look to the hill’s from which commith his (GOD’S) help his help commith from the Lord. To the family i hope that you are reading this hold you head up and just remember if your life is right with God than you shall see you Husband, and father in heaven. GOD BLESS.

  10. I think the first thing I remember seeing him in was “Get on the Bus”. I always liked his comedic style because he was so real, he reminded you of people you knew in life. Gone much too soon. Rest in peace.

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