Bernie Mac, who rose from poor beginnings to star in the Ocean's Eleven franchise opposite Brad Pitt and George Clooney, died from complications due to pneumonia on Saturday morning at the age of 50.
Mac, born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough, was an accomplished stand-up who made his way from Chicago's impoverished South Side to the Hollywood hills, beginning his film career with a small role as a club doorman in the 1992 Damon Wayans film Mo' Money.
Highlights included the Ocean's films, in which he played the con artist and former felon Frank Catton, and he also had starring roles in 2005's Guess Who, a remake of the classic 1967 Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn comedy Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, and 2003's Bad Santa.
"The world just got a little less funny," said his Ocean's co-star George Clooney. Another actor from the series, Don Cheadle, added: "This is a very sad day for many of us who knew and loved Bernie … He will be missed, but heaven just got funnier."
The comedian suffered from sarcoidosis, an immune system disorder, but it was thought the condition had gone into remission in 2005. He was recently hospitalised for pneumonia, but his publicist said this was not related to the disease.
Mac had been performing stand-up since the age of eight, when he told jokes at a church dinner. His grandfather was a Baptist deacon in Chicago, where the actor was brought up by his mother.
His bawdy brand of humour occasionally got him in trouble, and he was rebuked by the campaign team for Barack Obama after making jokes about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity at a fundraiser for the Democratic presidential candidate in July.
Mac won Golden Globe and Emmy awards for his television series The Bernie Mac Show, which ran for more than 100 episodes from 2001 to 2006 in the US, screening in the UK on Channel 4.
He leaves behind his wife of 30 years, Rhonda, a daughter and a granddaughter. His funeral will be held on Friday.