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Michael Clarke Duncan succumbs at 54

OW Staff | 9/5/2012, 5 p.m.

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan, best known for his Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated role as a sensitive death row inmate in the 1999 film, "The Green Mile," died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, his fiancee and a publicist announced. He was 54.

Duncan, whose most recent role was on the Fox TV series "The Finder," had been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack July 13.

The imposing 6-foot-5, 300-pound actor with a deep, commanding voice also appeared in such films as "Armageddon," the remake of "Planet of the Apes," "The Whole Nine Yards," "Sin City" and "The Scorpion King." He also voiced characters in the animated film "Kung Fu Panda" and the animated series "Spider-Man."

Duncan was raised by a single mother on Chicago's South Side and often told interviewers he concentrated on his studies to avoid drugs and alcohol.

He dreamed of becoming an actor while attending college, but instead found work digging ditches for the Peoples Gas Co. in Chicago. Later, Duncan worked as a bodyguard for rappers Will Smith, LL Cool J and The Notorious B.I.G. as well as actors Martin Lawrence and Jamie Foxx.

Duncan finally turned to acting in 1995 when he was in his 30s.

His breakout role in "The Green Mile" was based on a Stephen King novel and co-starred Tom Hanks. Duncan played convicted murderer John Coffey, who was befriended by Hank's character, a sympathetic corrections officer at a state penitentiary.

Duncan was engaged to reality TV-star-turned-minister the Rev. Omarosa Manigault at the time of his death. Services for the star have not been set.