The beloved actor and comedian died from complications due to pneumonia in a Chicago hospital. He is best known for his hit series “The Bernie Mac Show” in addition to his work in numerous films, including the “Ocean’s” trilogy. He had recently finished filming the movie “Soul Men” (with Samuel L. Jackson and Issac Hayes), which opened in theaters last month.
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The singer whose deep voice helped serve as a soundtrack to the American Civil Rights Movement spent years advocating for our people. Rosa Parks was once asked which songs resonated the most with her during that time. Her answer: “All of the songs Odetta sings.”
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MC Breed, 36
A native of Flint, Michigan, and a West Coast transplant, the rapper, who became famous for his collaborations with 2Pac ("Ain’t No Future in Yo’ Frontin,’”; “Gotta Get Mine”) died in his sleep at friend’s home. He had suffered kidney ailments for some time.
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Isaac Hayes, 65
A legendary soul singer, songwriter, musician and producer, whose career hit its peak with the single and album “Shaft” from the Oscar-winning soundtrack to the 1971 film, was a gifted vocalist. Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. He died the same weekend “Soul Men” costar Bernie Mac passed.
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Stephanie Tubbs Jones, 58
Tubbs Jones was the first Black woman to represent Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives and a fervent supporter of Senator Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidential nomination. Jones died after suffering brain hemorrhaging caused by an aneurysm.
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Miriam Makeba, 76
Fondly referred to as “Mama Africa”, Makeba’s songs against apartheid are legendary. She often said she would perform her last days on stage. Ironically, she spent her final moments onstage singing: “Pata Pata is the name of a dance we do.”
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Levi Stubbs, 72
The lead singer of the Motown group the Four Tops died in his home. He helped elevate the crew in the 1960’s with classics such as “Reach Out; I’ll Be There;” and “Bernadette.” Stubbs is survived by his wife, Clineice, five children and 11 grandchildren.
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Gene Upshaw, 63
Upshaw was the union chief for the National Football League. The former cotton picker went on to become the first African-American head of a major players union. He was often called the “Governor” by his coworkers because of his strong leadership abilities.
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Sean Levert, 39
The youngest son of O’Jays lead singer Eddie Levert and one-third of R&B trio LeVert died while serving time in jail for non-payment of child support after falling ill and being denied medication. His death is still being investigated. His brother Gerald, a fellow member of LeVert, died in 2006.
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Bo Diddley, 79
The singer and guitarist rose to stardom in 1955 producing hits such as “Bo Diddley,” “Who Do You Love,” and “Before You Accuse Me.” The Grammy winner and performer was mainly recognized for his homemade guitar, black hat and dark glasses.
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Rudy Ray Moore, 81
Moore, who played the slick-talking pimp in the 1975 film “Dolemite,” died from diabetes. He called himself “The Godfather of Rap” because of the numerous hip-hop artists who used his recordings in their works. Snoop once told the Los Angeles Times: “Without Rudy Ray Moore, there would be no Snoop Dogg.”
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Mildred Loving, 68
Loving was a matriarch of interracial marriage whose activism was fueled over being banned from Virginia for marrying a White man. This led the trailblazer to spark a landmark 1967 Supreme Court ruling overturning state miscegenation laws.
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Shakir Stewart, 34
As the vice-president of Def Jam and engaged to be married, Stewart appeared to have it all before his suicide in November. Family and friends say the once happy executive had become depressed in the weeks leading to his death. He took Jay-Z’s role following the rapper’s departure from the label and was known for his penchant for discovering and nurturing new talent.
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Johnnie Carr, 97
Carr, seated center, dedicated her life to fighting segregation and helped organize the Montgomery bus boycott with friend Rosa Parks during the Civil Rights Movement. President-elect Barack Obama pushed her along the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Reverend Joseph Lowery, left, commemorating the 1965 Selma-Montgomery Voting Rights March in Selma, Alabama.
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Earth Kitt, 81
Kitt, one of the original diva’s of her time who rose to fame in the 1950’s as a singer and actress, died of colon cancer on Christmas Day. She was born to a poor Black mother and White father in South Carolina but spent most of her adulthood using her sex appeal and feminine wilds to contribute to great performances on-screen, on Broadway and around the world.
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