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 (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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