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'Green Mile' Actor Michael Clarke Duncan Dies At 54

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan has died at age 54, according to his fiancee, the Rev. Omarosa Manigault. Known for his huge size and deep, resonant voice, Duncan received an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Green Mile, the 1999 prison film in which he starred alongside Tom Hanks.

Duncan's death was announced by Manigault, who in July said that she performed CPR on the actor after finding him in a state of cardiac arrest late at night.

That heart attack sent Duncan to the hospital, and it seems that he had been receiving treatment ever since. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a statement from Manigault.

The actor's death is "a tragic loss for anyone who knew this wonderful man, for the business as a whole and for the planet," his longtime manager, Dan Spilo, tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Spilo confirmed that Duncan never fully recovered from the heart attack he suffered in July.

Duncan turned heads earlier this spring, when he spoke out about his newfound vegetarianism. He announced his new approach to eating — and the news that he had lost more than 30 pounds — in an ad campaign for the animal rights group PETA.

Standing at an imposing 6 feet 5 inches, Duncan often gave surprising depth to roles that seemed to hinge on his large size — at times during his career, he weighed more than 300 pounds.

His most recent work included roles in Redemption Road and the TV show The Finder, as well as contributing his voice to Kung Fu Panda. He also appeared in Spider-Man (2003), and Planet of the Apes (2001).

At least two more of his films will debut in the coming months: In the Hive, and The Challenger.

A Chicago native, Duncan was reportedly present at a cultural watershed moment in that city's history: the infamous "Disco Demolition Night" of 1979, when a box of disco records was destroyed by an explosion at the White Sox's Comiskey Park, during a promotional event.

Just 21 at the time, Duncan was among the many fans who rushed the field — but as he told writer Steve Knopper, he wasn't a true believer in the anti-disco movement. "I loved disco back then!" Knopper recalls Duncan saying.

The AP has more about the actor's early life:

"Born in Chicago in 1957, Duncan was raised by a single mother whose resistance to his playing football led to his deciding he wanted to become an actor. But when his mother became ill, he dropped out of college, Alcorn State University, and worked as a ditch digger and bouncer to support her. By his mid-20s, he was in Los Angeles, where he looked for acting parts and became a bodyguard for Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and other stars. The murder of rapper Notorious B.I.G., for whom Duncan had been hired to protect before switching assignments, led him to quit his job and pursue acting full-time."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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