Isaac Hayes’ Homegoing service

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Hat Tip:  By Jody Callahan, Memphis Commercial Appeal

A collection of musicians, politicians, celebrities and activists said goodbye to Isaac Hayes in a three-hour tribute at Hope Presbyterian Church today.

Hayes died Aug. 10 after suffering a stroke. He would have turned 66 Wednesday.

Stax veteran William Bell, serving as host, introduced Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who began the stream of speeches and anecdotes.

Next came noted saxophonist Kirk Whalum, performing Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” accompanied by a guitarist.

Although most of those speaking references Hayes’ musical and humanitarian efforts, several made pointed references to Hayes’ beliefs as a Scientologist. Many of the celebrities at Hope were Scientologists.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) made the first reference to Scientology, adding that Tom Cruise, also a member of that organization, was in Memphis at a private memorial Sunday to pay his respects.

Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer spoke about Hayes’ movie career, referencing “Escape from New York” and “Truck Turner,” and talked about the impact Hayes had on Memphis music.

“I have a 7-year-old and a 6-month-old daughter, and rest assured, they’ll be raised on ‘Hot Buttered Soul’,” Brewer said.

A montage of clips from Hayes’ movie and television career ended with a poignant clip featuring Hayes and Bernie Mac in a promotion for Mac’s Fox sitcom. Mac died at age 50 one day before Hayes. They star together, along with Samuel L. Jackson, in the upcoming movie, “Soul Men.”

Actress Anne Archer (“Fatal Attraction,” “Patriot Games”) read a quote from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. She’s a member of the group.

The back of the program handed to visitors as they entered has a quote from Hubbard: “A culture is only as great as it’s dreams, and it’s dreams are dreamed by artists.”

Another Scientologist, actress Kelly Preston (co-star of “Jerry Maguire” and wife of John Travolta), reminisced about Hayes and a Scientology-backed educational program he helped introduce into some schools.

Stax veteran Al Bell remembered his contribution to the title of Hayes’ landmark record. In Jamaica, a bottle of “hot buttered rum” caught his eye and he knew the term was perfect for Hayes’ sound. “I’m going to moss him terribly. I already do,” Bell said.

Jazz musician Chick Corea (piano) and noted film composer Mark Isham (trumpet) played a piece they dedicated to Hayes. Then Hayes’ daughter, Veronica, told the crowd, “We will persevere and keep my father’s legacy going.”

David Porter, Hayes’ songwriting partner for more than 40 years, recognized all the Stax veterans in the audience, as well as the star of the movie “Shaft,” Richard Roundtree. He also pointed out Public Enemy founder Chuck D and renowned bassist Bootsy Collins.

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: