LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Hanks, Jay Leno, Holly Robinson Peete, Loretta Devine and Stevie Wonder were among those who helped celebrate the life of Michael Clarke Duncan during a nearly four-hour memorial service Monday marked by heartfelt speeches, rousing gospel performances and photos of the always-smiling star.
Hanks and Leno shared stories about "The Green Mile" star. Peete talked about meeting Duncan while he was still a celebrity bodyguard. Devine spoke of how Duncan would do anything for a laugh.
Wonder appeared via video, solemnly playing piano and singing the opening verses of his life-affirming song "As" for the man he called "a gentle giant."
Duncan died Sept. 3 at 54, having never fully recovered from a heart attack in July. His physician was among the speakers at the service at Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Los Angeles.
Former reality TV star the Rev. Omarosa O. Manigault, who was Duncan's fiancée, also attended along with Duncan's mother, sister and nephews.
Backed by a gospel choir, singers Angie Stone, Kelly Price, Kenny Lattimore and Abraham McDonald lent their voices to the private funeral. State Assemblyman Mike Davis and Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson also attended, with the council declaring Monday as "Michael Clarke Duncan Day."
Leno said he was touched by the actor's positivity and lack of cynicism.
"Just to see such a pure heart and pure kindness, and to see it taken so early," the comedian said, his voice cracking. "There are no sadder words than what might have been."
Leno said Duncan's sunny smile "grew another millimeter on each end" when he met Manigault. The two had planned to marry in December.
Frank Darabont, director of "The Green Mile," called Duncan "a fierce warrior" and "the gentlest of souls."
"No one had a more positive spirit than Michael Clarke Duncan," he said.
Darabont also read a letter from Stephen King, who wrote "The Green Mile."
"No one has ever done a character I wrote more justice," the author wrote.
Hanks teased his late co-star about his penmanship, which he described as "loopy and huge."
"It looks like a 12-year-old girl who loves horses wrote it," Hanks said.
He went on to tell a story of a young Duncan on the South Side of Chicago who one day decided he would join a gang. When he came home and told his mother, she whacked him in the head with a frying pan — a sizzling pork chop still inside — and told him to extract himself from the gang immediately.
Hanks impersonated the 6-foot-5-inch, 300-pound, deep-voiced Duncan sheepishly explaining to his fellow gang members that his mom wouldn't let him be in a gang.
"If it wasn't for that mama and the frying pan with a pork chop, we would not be here today celebrating the life of Michael Clarke Duncan," Hanks said.
Other speakers included actors David Boreanaz and Geoff Stults, and "Bones" creator Hart Hanson.
The Rev. Dr. H. Beecher Hicks delivered the eulogy, closing by saying to Manigault: "Don't fret, he's in heaven."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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