Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan’s celebrity friends share emotional stories at memorial service

Jay Leno got choked up during his speech. Tom Hanks told laughter-inducing stories.
Actor Michael Clarke Duncan's humble attitude and kind nature may have been very un-showbiz, but it turns out he stole the hearts of many Hollywood heavyweights and developed close relationships with several big stars. A memorial service took place in Los Angeles on Monday for the 54-year-old, who died on September 3 of complications from a July heart attack, and plenty of famous faces showed up not just to pay their respects, but to speak about a man they considered a friend.

Jay Leno got choked up as he addressed the mourners and remembered Clarke's joy over falling in love with his fiancée, reality star Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, two years ago. "I know he was 54, but he was 17 years old with me and he was so happy," said Leno, fighting back tears. "And when he met Omarosa we talked again and I know that big smile, but you know it grew like another millimeter on each side. He was so happy."
Holly Robinson Peete had been friends with Duncan for years. Duncan's fiancee, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth.
Tom Hanks, Duncan's co-star in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," cracked the crowd up, retelling a story Duncan had shared about trying to join a neighborhood gang when he was a kid in Chicago, a plan Duncan's mother quickly thwarted. "My mama says I can't be in your gang," Hanks said, imitating his friend's booming voice to roars of laughter.

Other celebs in attendance included Vivica A. Fox, David Boreanz, Loretta Devine, and Holly Robinson Peete, whose friendship with Duncan goes back to his pre-famous days as a bodyguard. Hart Hanson, the creator of both "Bones" and "The Finder," the TV series in which Duncan most recently starred, summed up the public's love of the gentle giant, explaining fans would stop him and ask for hugs rather than autographs.
While Clarke may have ended up with an unlikely circle of celebrity friends, Leno reminded everyone that he remained as down-to-Earth as they come: "Here's a guy in a cynical business like Hollywood. Everybody's mad. 'Somebody got this instead of me. Why didn't I get that part?' Here's a guy that was happy for every job he got."

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