04.09.2012 / 15:31

Michael Clarke Duncan Dies at 54

The star of The Green Mile did not manage to recover from the heart attack.

Michael Clarke Duncan, the prolific character actor whose dozens of films included an Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inmate in The Green Mile, has died aged 54.

Duncan died on Monday at the Cedars-Sinai medical centre in Los Angeles, where he was being treated for a heart attack, according to his fiancee, Omarosa Manigault.

The muscular, over 2-meter-tall Duncan a former bodyguard who turned to acting in his 30s suffered a myocardial infarction on 13 July and never fully recovered, said a statement issued by a spokesman.

Duncan had a handful of minor roles before The Green Mile brought him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor.

The 1999 film, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, starred Tom Hanks as a guard at a prison in the 1930s.

Duncan played John Coffey, a convicted murderer with a surprisingly gentle demeanour and extraordinary healing powers.

Duncan's performance impressed critics and moviegoers and he quickly became a favourite in Hollywood, appearing in several films a year.

He owed some of his good fortune to Bruce Willis, who recommended Duncan for The Green Mile after the two appeared together in Armageddon.

Duncan would work with Willis again in Breakfast of Champions, The Whole Nine Yards and Sin City.

He also appeared in the superhero film Daredevil and in comedies including Talladega Nights and School for Scoundrels.

His gravelly baritone alone was good enough for several animated movies, including Kung Fu Panda, Delgo and Brother Bear.

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 and worked as a ditch digger and bouncer to support her.

By his mid-20s, he was working as a bodyguard for Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and other stars in Los Angeles.

He decided to quit that line of work and pursue acting full-time after the murder of rapper Notorious BIG, whom Duncan had been hired to protect before switching assignments.