Je’niece Childress, the 30-year-old daughter and only child of late comedian Bernie Mac, said she and her mother believed he would make a full recovery from the pneumonia that sent him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital last month.
“Initially when he was hospitalized we expected him to come back home, but as the weeks went on, I kind of knew,” Childress told The Associated Press.
Mac, 50, died Saturday from what his publicist said were complications from pneumonia. The entertainer, born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough in Chicago, also suffered from sarcoidosis, but the disease was said to have been in remission since 2005.
Childress, who has a 1-year-old daughter, said her mother, Rhonda McCullough, and Mac were married for 32 years.
“He was a hard man and he made no apologies for that,” Childress said. “When it came to me and my mother and my daughter he was the softest.”
There were also no apologies regarding his ribald brand of comedy. Recently, the comic got into trouble at a July fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. His topics of menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity rubbed audience members the wrong way. Obama’s campaign later said the jokes were “inappropriate.”
“I kind of figured he was going to get a lot of backlash,” Childress told the AP. “Telling that joke at that time probably wasn’t the best idea, but that’s him.”
Childress said there was always laughter in their home. “Because that’s just who he was. I’m sad that my daughter will never know or be able to feel how much he loved her.”
“I think he will always be remembered as one of the original kings of comedy,” Childress said. “I think what made him so special to people was that even though he was a celebrity he just seemed so down to earth and so much like a part of your family.”
A public memorial will be held this weekend at House of Hope in Chicago, Childress said. A private funeral has been scheduled for Friday, Aug. 15, at an undisclosed location. The family requests that donations be made to the Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis, 40 E. Ninth St., Suite 601, Chicago IL 60605.