Michael Clarke Duncan planned to marry next year

Story highlights

  • Duncan, 54, and reality star Omarosa Manigault, 38, intended to start a family, her rep says
  • Duncan died Monday at the hospital where he had been since suffering a heart attack
  • Duncan was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1999 film "The Green Mile"
  • Manigault competed on Donald Trump's "Apprentice" show in 2004

Michael Clarke Duncan, the Oscar-nominated actor who died Monday, and reality-TV personality Omarosa Manigault planned to marry next year, Manigault's representative told CNN Tuesday.

Duncan, 54, and Manigault, 38, intended to have children together, Priscilla Clarke said.

The actor died Monday at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center, where he had been treated since suffering a heart attack on July 13 from which he "never fully recovered," a written statement from his rep Joy Fehily said.

Nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the 1999 film "The Green Mile," Duncan was most recently on the TV series "The Finder," on the Fox network.

Michael Bay, Tom Hanks remember Duncan

Manigault became a celebrity when she competed on Donald Trump's "Apprentice" show in 2004. She later appeared on several other reality shows.

2006: Michael Clarke Duncan on health
2006: Michael Clarke Duncan on health


    2006: Michael Clarke Duncan on health


2006: Michael Clarke Duncan on health 02:58
Stars remember Michael Clarke Duncan
Stars remember Michael Clarke Duncan


    Stars remember Michael Clarke Duncan


Stars remember Michael Clarke Duncan 01:51
2000: Duncan reflects on his large body
2000: Duncan reflects on his large body


    2000: Duncan reflects on his large body


2000: Duncan reflects on his large body 01:06
2000: Michael Clarke Duncan talks fame
2000: Michael Clarke Duncan talks fame


    2000: Michael Clarke Duncan talks fame


2000: Michael Clarke Duncan talks fame 01:03

According to TMZ, Manigault provided lifesaving efforts when Duncan had the heart attack in his home.

A towering and hulking figure, the 6-foot-5-inch Duncan also was known for his deep voice.

A Chicago native, he went to college at Alcorn State University in Mississippi with plans to major in communications, but he dropped out and moved home.

In his 20s, he worked digging ditches for Peoples Gas during the day and as a bouncer at night. He told CNN in 1999 that his co-workers at the gas company called him "Hollywood" because he'd often talk about becoming a movie star.

"I'd be digging a ditch and they'd say, 'Hey, man, Bruce Willis wants to talk to you about a movie.' And they'd just crack up laughing," he said while doing press for "The Green Mile."

"Those co-workers had no way of knowing how that joke would turn on them."

In 1990, he decided to measure up to his nickname and he moved to Los Angeles. He worked as a bodyguard, then got a part in a commercial as a drill sergeant.

More roles followed -- often ones that depended more on his 315-pound frame than his acting ability. He was a guard in "Back in Business," a bouncer in "A Night at the Roxbury," a bouncer for 2 Live Crew in "The Players Club," and a bouncer at a bar in the Warren Beatty film "Bulworth."

Tributes to the late actor

In 1998, he landed his first significant movie part, playing Bear in the film "Armageddon," in which a crew of drillers from an oil rig save the Earth from an asteroid.

Director Michael Bay said Duncan cried at his first audition for the film because he "wanted to make his mom proud."

"His first day on 'Armageddon' he sucked," Bay said. "I remember looking to Ben Affleck and thinking we might need to fire him. But I told him, 'Mike, I hired you for you. I want the sweet Mr. Clarke Duncan I met in that room.' I said, 'The audience is going to fall in love with you.' He looked and smiled with his deep voice and said 'OK.'"

Duncan earned "the most improved actor" award among the cast, Bay said. "Everyone loved him, his infectious spirit and great belly laugh."

"Armageddon" was the beginning of his friendship with Bruce Willis. They appeared in four films together. And it was Willis who called 'The Green Mile' director Frank Darabont to put in a good word for Duncan.

In the Oscar-nominated film, Duncan played John Coffey, the huge black man wrongly convicted in a Louisiana town for the rapes and murders of two white girls. Coffey has supernatural powers, though; his hands can heal, even bring back the dead.

A microcosm of faith, Coffey is a messenger of hope and lost hope who develops a relationship with a guard named Paul Edgecomb, played by Tom Hanks.

"He was the treasure we all discovered on the set of 'The Green Mile,'" Hanks said in a statement released Tuesday. "He was magic. He was a big love of (a) man and his passing leaves us stunned."

Film critic Roger Ebert wrote that Duncan's performance was "both acting and being." Ebert tweeted Monday that Duncan was "a striking screen presence."

Duncan's "Green Mile" performance earned him a nomination for an Academy Award as best supporting actor, which was won that year by Michael Caine for "The Cider House Rules."

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who starred with Duncan in the movie "The Scorpion King" said on Twitter: "When something happens, we always say it happens for a reason. ... Michael Clarke Duncan 12/10/57 - 9/3/12 I'll miss you my brother."

According to the Internet Movie Database, Duncan had two completed projects that have yet to be released on a nationwide basis. He is slated to appear in "The Challenger," a boxing movie written and directed by Kent Moran. He will also appear in the Robert Townsend film "In the Hive," about an alternative school for boys who have been kicked out of other schools.

One of his co-stars in that film was Vivica A. Fox.

"My heart is shocked and saddened!! RIP Michael Clark Duncan. U were the most gentle giant and the most gracious of a man! U wont b 4gotten! " she tweeted.

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