When four-year-old Bernard McCullough witnessed his crying mother wiping away her tears and laughing at Bill Cosby, he realized his life’s purpose; he would become a comedian. The boy told his mother,‘Mama I’m gonna be a comedian, so maybe you never have to cry again.’

Bernard McCullough became the hilarious Bernie Mac, a Chicago native who held a range of  jobs including basketball coach and WonderBread delivery truck driver, before he conquered Hollywood. Mac’s dream became a reality in 1990, when he won the Miller Lite Comedy Search, and later Russell Simmons gave him a shot at “Def Comedy Jam.”

Throughout his career, Bernie Mac delivered memorable performances in cult hits (Friday), big box office winners (Ocean’s 11), and his own sitcom, (“The Bernie Mac Show”), alike.
Bernie Mac succumbed to sarcoidosis in August of 2008, but the King of Comedy lives, through his family and fans.

Je’ Niece N. McCullough is the Vice President/Director of The Bernie Mac Foundation, and she is also Bernie Mac’s daughter. Founded in 2007, the Foundation is a think tank and fundraiser “dedicated to a more thorough understanding of  the disease and its impact on patients’ lives.”

Rolling out spoke with McCullough at the recent Night of 100 Stars Gala, held in Chicago’s DuSable Museum.

How is the Bernie Mac Foundation doing?
We’re doing good, we’ve been taking baby steps. Last year was our first fully functional year.

How do you want fans to remember your dad?
I want them to remember him as the true King of Comedy that he was. That down-home, never met a stranger [man]. He had that uncanny ability to make people feel like they knew him, from the moment he stepped on the stage, to the moment he stepped on the screen. You felt like he was somebody in your family, you felt like he was a guy that you could approach, and say, “Hey Bernie,” and he’d sit down and talk to you.
And that’s what I want people to remember.

What are you working on now?
We actually have a concert on Thursday, what we call our Jazz and Soul Session series, this will be our last one until fall. It will be with saxophonist Eric Darius at Close-Up 2, at 416 S. Clark Street. We also have a speaking tour that we do, I go to different schools …  just telling my story, Growing up Mac from the hood to Hollywood. We also have Bernie Mac Day with the White Sox coming up in June. We’ve been busy and we’re trying to keep it going.

–Photo by Bernard Williams.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bernardjw1 Bernard Williams Jr

    met bernie mac on the green line el train when he was twenty.he was doing his comedy routine.later met him at the close-up piano bar when it was at 536 south federal.i was the remy man then and one of his early supporters/manager asked me to sponsor a benefit performance he was giving for the black screenwriters association.i agreed and contributed two bottles of remy martin vsop cognac and watched his act.he was very slim then and wore a geri curl hair style.i gave him a shot of remy to ease his nerves as this was his first nitelub performance at a downtown venue.he thanked me and after the performance came over to me and flat out said i want you to be my manager.i respectfully declined but refered him to carol albritton who had just started an open mike nite at the cotton club another nitespot on michigan that i had helped to open and get a liquor license.i saw his potential back then as he was newly married and working two jobs trying to support his family.his act wasnt that good but afterwards he told me that he was taking car of his sisters kids because she was a crack head.the honest and forthright way he said this struck a chord with me and i told him he had a television show in his future desighned around his family and his stuggle to raise these two crack baby children as he bluntly put it.he was hilarious when he unashamdly described his feelings and travails with the kids and his family and big momma.years later he contacted me thru a mutual friend and invited me to a show he was doing at the comedy club on wabash.it was there that he introduced me to kelitaand asked if i approved of her to be his wife on his upcoming tv series which i did.another one of my backstories.little known until now.he promised me that he would never move away from chicago no matter how rich and famous he got and he kept his word.he was a good man and may he rest always in peace.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Crockett/100000218044969 David Crockett

    They are laughing in heaven, thanks to the Mac Man.