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A Tribute to Bernie Mac

Aired August 12, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, an exclusive king-sized salute to comedy royalty, Bernie Mac.

BERNIE MAC, COMEDIAN: What's happening, agents?


KING: His death from pneumonia at the age of 50 shocked his family, who thought he'd pull through; stunned his friends, who can't believe he's gone; and shook all of Hollywood, who didn't see it coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one and only Bernie Mac.


KING: For the first time since his passing, his fellow "Kings of Comedy" are together again -- D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Steve Harvey are here to honor a fellow member of the king's court. His on-screen son-in-law, Ashton Kutcher, joins us. And Bernie's TV family, who thought of him as a real-life father figure, all celebrate the life of a beloved funny man, Bernie Mac, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

D.L. Hughley, Cedric The Entertainer and Steve Harvey costarred with Bernie Mac in Spike Lee's 2000 standup documentary film, "The Original Kings of Comedy".

Bernie Mac died Saturday from complications due to pneumonia. He was only 50 years old.

Bernie Mac was born Bernard Jeffrey McCullough. He grew up on Chicago's South Side. And a public memorial was scheduled for this Saturday in his hometown.

D.L., Cedric and Steve Harvey will join us right now. And they're here, D.L. and Cedric. Steve is in Atlanta.

We'll start with a clip from "The Original Kings of Comedy".

This is Bernie Mac riffing on his thoughts on with dealing with kids. Watch.


BERNIE MAC: That's why I'm going to open up a day care center. When I retire from comedy, I'm going to be able to prove to you that I'm trustworthy. I will (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) your kids up.


BERNIE MAC: You ain't got to fill out no application. The first three months free. You don't need no hidden videos around the house to see what the (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) is going on.


BERNIE MAC: Because when you come to pick your kid up, I'm going to look you in the eye and tell you what the (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) is going on. When you come to pick your kid up and he's got a knot on the corner of his head and you saying what happened to my son, I'm going to tell you, I took a hammer and slapped the (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) out of him.



KING: What do you think, D.L., as you watch him?

D.L. HUGHLEY: Well, I...


KING: First, he was funny.

HUGHLEY: Yes, I think I wished he'd have raised my kids.


HUGHLEY: No, I think that that was Bernie. I think that he, you know, he was -- to me, he's a -- he's a hybrid between -- he was a touchstone between the old way of comedy and the new way of comedy. I think that Bernie was -- to me, I think the hardest thing to be, as a black man, is an individual. There's so much, you know, group thinking and so many people that want you to be part of the collective. And Bernie used to always say, I walk alone, I'm going to do my own thing. And he -- that -- he was an individual.

KING: And he did.

HUGHLEY: And he did. (ph)

KING: Cedric, what do you think when you look at him?

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Oh, yes. I would say the same thing. He had the kind of comedy -- it was a shocking brand of comedy. But it was truthful. I mean, he usually performed and said the kind of things that you think but you never would say. I mean, you know, raising kids and family and marriage and all those kind of taboo areas that everybody kind of talk about with so much reverence and oh, it's so special. And he would just like smack it right out there and bust somebody's window with it. So, you know, that was his style. I loved it.

KING: And, Steve Harvey, what do you think when you watch him?

STEVE HARVEY: I mean, you know, Bernie was in your face. He was in your face style brother. He was an in your face style brother. He was a man's man. He -- we often used to sit and watch him and just -- you know, because he went up last. So we would all just sit and watch him and just go -- we're going to go out here and watch this train wreck. Because Bernie...


HARVEY: Bernie just took his jokes and ran them into you. He just broadsided you, you know.

KING: Right.

HARVEY: And you had to take it. And that was his style. And that's what we loved about him. And that's -- that's going to be missed now.

KING: Subtle was not his game.




D.L. where -- how did you learn of his passing?

HUGHLEY: I was actually in Vegas this weekend, actually working with Walter Latham, who was the promoter of "Kings of Comedy". And I had been getting calls all week -- you know, they -- that he was in the hospital. And I, like everybody else, wanted to believe that it was -- he was going to be fine and there was going to be a moment after all of this, that was kind of a wake-up call and that we were going to get a chance to connect.

And then on Saturday I got a call asking me how I felt about his passing, which I -- and I had known. And then I looked on CNN and I saw that, you know, that he had passed and that -- and I -- I just became incredibly sad, because I always assumed that he would be all right. You just -- he had this indomitable will. You just -- you just assumed he would be...



HUGHLEY: Not guys like that. And so it makes me very sad that I never got a chance to tell him how much he meant.

KING: There were reports he was doing better, right?



KING: How did you learn of it, Cedric?

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Yes, kind of the same thing. I was at home early and it was early in the morning. My manager called me from St. Louis. He had got the early call from Bernie's manager, because we had been checking on him all week. You know, like the week before there was like this vicious rumor that he had passed already. So -- and so we had already been like calling and checking on him and making sure he was good and checking in with the family.

And so my manager called me early in the morning and woke me up and told me that, you know, he didn't make it, he had passed. So it was really sad that -- to hear that, you know, because the last reports we got that he was really responding to the medication and they actually expected him to be at home soon. So it was just kind of, you know, reversing the other way.

KING: And, Steve, how did you learn?

HARVEY: I was actually in Chicago. I was having breakfast at the Peninsula Hotel. I was up there to host the Bud Biliken Parade in Chicago. And we had gotten a text message. And, of course, we just -- we had written it off as the rumor -- the same rumor that had happened the week before. So we didn't think anything of it.

And then Reverend Al Sharpton walked into the restaurant and came up to me and said, "I'm so sorry about your boy."

And I was looking at him, "My boy?"

And then he said, "It's true, man. Bernie Mac passed."

And that's how, you know...

KING: All right. Wow!

By the way, the standup superstar, of course, Chris Rock directed and co-starred with Bernie Mac in the 2003 comedy, "Head of State." Chris paid tribute to Bernie with these words: "Bernie Mac was one of the best and funniest comedians to ever live. But that was the second best thing he did. Bernie was one of the greatest friends a person could have and losing him is like losing 12 people, because he filled up any room he was in. I'm going to miss the Mac man."

Ashton Kutcher is coming up and we'll have more with the kings of comedy, ahead.


BERNIE MAC: No. Oh, yes. No. Look at that little brother, man. Man, I thought you said you were going to call me when you got into town.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was trying to call you, man, but I've been doing presses all day.

BERNIE MAC: My little brother running for president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me introduce you to Martin Gellar, (INAUDIBLE).

BERNIE MAC: What's happening with you, baby?

Thank you for what you're doing for my brother. Appreciate it.

And how about you, Thriller?

What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nice to meet you.

And what do you do for a living?

BERNIE MAC: Well, I'm a bail bondsman.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Bennett, I'm afraid you've been employing an ex-convict.



BERNIE MAC: You heard what I said.

A black man can't earn a decent wage in this state?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is absolutely (INAUDIBLE)...

BERNIE MAC: A cowboy like you going to try to throw me out on the street?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There isn't no one trying -- I'm trying to do my job, sir.

BERNIE MAC: Yes, (INAUDIBLE), what do you want from me, man? You want me to get on the table and dance?

Would you like me to shine your shoes?

You want me to smile at you?

Because you definitely won't let me deal the cards. You might as well as call it white Jack.



KING: That was Bernie Mac in the hit movie "Ocean's Eleven".

All right, George Clooney released this statement right after Bernie's death: "The world just got a little less funny. He will be dearly missed."

And this from Brad Pitt, who co-starred in that film: "I lament the loss of a ferociously funny and hard core family man. My thoughts are with Rhonda and their family. Bernie Mac, you are already missed."

Where do you put him in the comedy specter, D.L.?

Where is he?

HUGHLEY: I think he's one of the best. And it's ironic because we lost Robin Harris about, probably 15 years ago. And Bernie seemed to just step into that void and just embody that kind of just old time, down home grace. And I think he's one of the best that ever lived. There's no question about it.

KING: Steve, did Richard Pryor have an effect on him?

HARVEY: Oh, yes. I mean, man, you could see it. You know, he was a story teller. Pryor was the king of story telling and in a very special cultural way. You know, Pryor, just like Bernie, whether you grew up in his neighborhood or you were around his lifestyle, he painted the picture and made you see it. And I don't see how Pryor couldn't have been an influence. He was an influence on all of us.

But you could really see it in Mac. You know, you could see it man, because he was -- he was that uncle that came over to the house that -- he didn't care how he explained his presence at the house and didn't care who was at home listening, he never changed the way he was. He was just Bernie Mac all the way. And that was Pryor, too.

So, yes. I would have to say yes.

KING: Cedric, his daughter told the Associated Press that her father was a hard man and made no apologies for that. But she says he was the softest when it came to family.


KING: What was your experience with him?

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Oh, yes. I would say that's -- that's definitely the sentiment. I mean he was a -- he was a straight talker, a straight shooter, I mean, and he -- at all times, he kind of -- you know, it's really true, like that whole I walk alone. I mean Bernie would, he would do his thing and, you know, even after the kings, he might have one beer with the group and then he's gone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that would be it.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: He's doing the Bernie Mac thing after that.


KING: He had his own drummer.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: He had his own drum and that's how he did it all the time so you know...

HUGHLEY: He used to -- one of the favorite things that used to happen is we used to -- we didn't get to see each other after the show. We were all (INAUDIBLE) until the night of the show with the "Kings of Comedy." And we would all wait to see what Bernie was wearing because he would wear colors that crayon hadn't invented yet.


HUGHLEY: We literally used to go how did he...


HUGHLEY: How did he (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: The Crayola people.

HUGHLEY: We never thought of that. And he -- he was just -- and he was electric.

KING: Yes.

HUGHLEY: He really was.

KING: Bernie and his wife, by the way, were married for 30 years. And marriage is something he talked about, like in "The Original Kings of Comedy" performance.



BERNIE MAC: Women like to be your mamma, your daddy, your uncle, your counselor, your pastor. They want to tell you what to do, when to come, where you going, who are you talking to, who over there?


BERNIE MAC: Sit down here.


BERNIE MAC: Don't park the car there.


BERNIE MAC: Slow down. Light red. Stop. Look out.


BERNIE MAC: Taste this (ph). Shut the (EXPLETIVE LANGUAGE) up.


KING: He caught some flak, Steve, at, apparently, last month for some stand-up material he did at a fundraiser for Barack Obama joking about menopause, sexual infidelity and used some crude language. Obama followed him on stage and told him to clean up his act.

Did you talk to him about that?

HARVEY: No, you know. But I mean come on, you know, this is Bernie Mac.


HARVEY: He made no apologies for being Bernie Mac. I mean respect a cat that's a man's man. This is how he did his thing all these years. He made millions like this. Now, you know, people may say that wasn't the time or place. But it was Bernie Mac's time and Bernie Mac's place. And that's how he looked at it. So, you know...


KING: Obama said it was inappropriate.

HUGHLEY: Well, Obama is a politician. And they're pretty much going to say what they need to say at whatever time. Bernie was -- he didn't have a season. He did what he did. And booking Bernie -- I wouldn't book Bernie Mac for a kids' party. And I wouldn't...


HUGHLEY: And I wouldn't book -- I think that you put a man in a situation and he's going to be exactly that. That's the thing we loved about him, was that you didn't call it inappropriate, you called it his way. He just did what he did and you either worked around it or it didn't get done.

KING: What do you think he would have done had he gone on?

Do you think he would have done more film? CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Oh, yes. I had spoken with him probably in the last, you know, maybe about the last three weeks. And he, you know, he was definitely talking about producing some more movies. He had an idea of doing his last big stand-up thing, that's "The Mac, Nothing But the Mac, So Help Me God." And he was going to do this big special. And, you know, he planned on producing some other movies. He had even looked at doing television again, so I mean...

KING: Oh, yes?

HUGHLEY: Yes, for a minute there. So, yes, he was -- he was still interested in being busy and entertaining the masses. I think that's what he loved to do.

KING: Were all of you guys close, Steve?

HARVEY: I mean, you know, yes. I mean, you know, because of the tour, we formed a permanent brotherhood. You know, we became brothers because of this tour. We will be forever linked together because of the tour, you know. I mean that's our legacy almost.

I mean, you know, we were all doing great in clubs and venues. We could all do 3,000 to 5,000 seats at the time that the kings were formed. But after the kings, I mean, man, things took off in a lot of directions for all of us. You know, we all went our separate ways, but, you know, it was a blessing within itself to be a part of his life, as close as were.

You know, we had the highest grossing tour ever in the comedy -- in the history of comedy. We were together almost every single weekend. I mean Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We did the MCI Center in D.C. Friday, Saturday; came back the following week and did it Friday and Saturday.

KING: Wow!

HARVEY: I mean, you know, we sat in each other's dressing rooms. We had a great time. There was a strong bond.

KING: Bernie's on-screen son-in-law, Ashton Kutcher, will be here right after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?

BERNIE MAC: I'm getting ready to go to sleep.


BERNIE MAC: Right here.


BERNIE MAC: Right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you have a bed upstairs?

BERNIE MAC: I sure do. So does Theresa. By me sleeping here it assures me that she gets a good night's sleep all alone. Now, good night.



KING: Our group is joined by Ashton Kutcher, the wonderful actor and producer who co-starred with Bernie Mac in 2005's "Guess Who," which was a revamp, updated version of the famous "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?"

We're going to show you a clip.

Bernie Mac played an overprotective father, Ashton his prospective son-in-law, not the suitor he'd envisioned.



BERNIE MAC: I don't get it.

ASHTON KUTCHER: And heads. Well, you're doing great.

BERNIE MAC: I ain't talking about this. I'm talking about you and Theresa. You ain't got nothing in common. For example, you don't like sports. Theresa loves sports. You're a businessman. She's an artist. You're white. She's black.

Did I miss anything?


KING: What was it like to work with him, Ashton?

KUTCHER: It was a pleasure to work with him. It was an absolute pleasure. Actually, you know, when I found out that Bernie passed, there was something that -- I -- you know, I think that he's the kind of person that would want you to celebrate his life as opposed to mourning his loss.

And I sort of just took a moment and just had an absolute appreciation for the opportunity to know Bernie Mac, to actually just to get to know him as a human being...

KING: Really?

KUTCHER: work with him, to be around him. And just a moment of absolute appreciation for everything that he gave to the world. Because I think he's the kind of guy that would want everybody to sit and just go all right, that's what Mac gave to the world, you know?

KING: I guess that's what it's going to be like in Chicago Saturday. It's not going to be sad.

HUGHLEY: Well, I think it's impossible to, you know -- there's going to be a range of emotions and I'm sure sadness is going to be among them. But you've got to smile whenever you think about...


KING: You say his name you smile.


CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Oh, yes. I mean, sure. He would be like what you crying for? You don't know me. Why are you all doing that?


CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: And he would be over there, why are you showing up in the casket?

You don't know me.



KING: Ashton, he had a disease, right, before he developed the pneumonia?

What's the name of it?

KUTCHER: I think it's sarcoidosis or something like that.


KING: Sarcoidosis. Apparently, he had a bout of it while making the film.

KUTCHER: Yes, I think that's the -- I think it's sort of the first time it kind of crept up on him. And we were just shooting the film and I got a call on Monday or something. We came back to work after a weekend and Bernie wasn't able to make it because he was sick. And I was like well, what do you mean he's sick?

We're like Bernie -- because Bernie's not the guy that's going to take the day off because he's sick, you know what I mean?

And then, you know, a couple days, if we rearranged the schedule. And then I found out he was in the hospital and I went to see him in the hospital.

And, you know -- but, you know, even in -- even when he was in the hospital, he was still Bernie. Like it didn't -- and he came back to work. And he had -- and was on oxygen and actually came to work and between takes was on oxygen. And he would take the oxygen off and do a take and then put the oxygen back on because he couldn't get enough oxygen into his lungs. KING: Was he worried about his health?

KUTCHER: I think Bernie was too busy living to worry about not living. Like, you know, it was just kind of like he -- I don't know if he was worried about his health. But I know he was a hard enough working man that he came to work with an oxygen tank on that he would take off between takes because he wanted to be there to support everybody.

KING: Did any -- Steve, did you visit him in the hospital at all?

HARVEY: No. You know, I had just gotten into Chicago the night before, on Friday night.


HARVEY: That was -- I had just got there, you know, and I was at breakfast. So, no, I didn't -- I didn't get a chance at all.

KING: When was the last time you talked to him, Cedric?

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: See, I talked, I think it was, it had to be maybe about four weeks ago. We were talking, trying to figure out how we could actually get the kings back together and go on tour. And I called him and talked to him for a little bit. And then -- and, you know, and he was just kind of explaining to me where he was (INAUDIBLE).

KING: He was OK then?

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Yes, he was great.

KING: Yes.


KING: And, D.L. when did you talk?

HUGHLEY: The last time I had spoke to him at length were two times. Once we were on -- I was on doing "Studio 60" and he was doing "Ocean's Thirteen" and we talked at length then. And then when I was doing the show.

But Bernie was such a private person. Like, you -- something could be going on with him and he didn't wear it all over his face. I'll be shocked -- he's so private that I'll be shocked when we go to the funeral if he's actually there. I think he...


HUGHLEY: I mean Bernie could have been -- he might have been passed on for two years and nobody would know about it.


HUGHLEY: That's just how -- I mean, literally, nothing surprised me with this cat. And he was, you know, didn't -- wasn't just like an emotional guy where he would just let you know what was going on.

So you -- I am -- I'm saddened that I didn't take the initiative and do more.

KUTCHER: No. Even when he was ill, when we were doing the film, he didn't not -- he didn't tell anybody.


KUTCHER: You know, some people get sick and they're like I'm sick.


KUTCHER: Feel bad for me, I'm sick. Like he didn't tell any -- he didn't say anything. We didn't even know.

KING: Right?

KUTCHER: We had no idea for the longest time. And then, you know, and then even then, he showed up at work like trying to pass it off, like he was -- like there was -- it was no big deal.

KING: We know how funny he was.

How good an actor was he?

KUTCHER: He was a great actor.

KING: Really, a great actor?

KUTCHER: He was a great actor. He was -- you know, it's -- a lot of people will remember Bernie as a comedian. But he was a performer. Bernie could sing. Bernie could dance. We were doing the dances in these shows and I had to go to like dance rehearsals so that I could figure out how to do the tango. Bernie's like the tango, it's just this, you know, and he could do it. He was a full performer from top to bottom.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: Definitely. And I mean, you know, it was -- some of the, you know, I even think about some of the movies that he, you know, he was in. And these movies would have -- I would say this about anybody that's a great actor. Like if you can be in a movie and it's not necessarily a good movie, but your part is the best thing to watch, that was Bernie almost in every movie. Like there's something about his part you want to watch. And he would capture the character. He would bring something out that was magical.

KING: He stood out.

CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER: He stood out, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with more.

Lots to go on this tribute to the late -- it's hard to say that -- Bernie Mac. And the guys are staying with us.

We'll see you after the break.


BERNIE MAC: How you all doing?


BERNIE MAC: Look here. I seen my brother ain't checked the books in quite a while, huh?


BERNIE MAC: Look here, lovelies. I know I've only been here for a few days, but why don't you all explain to me, what the hell is this?

And what you think you're...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Careful with that, Buzz.

BERNIE MAC: I'm all right.

And I also see you all being played. Five Gs for a Kevlar vest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. They're made especially for us.


You all fine, but you crazy.



GEORGE LOPEZ, COMEDIAN: He lit up the room when he walked in. He was so kind to everybody. He was almost like a Santa Claus. He'd walk around and go, how are you doing? How are you? So nice.

LUKE WILSON, ACTOR: He just could not have been more kind and personable. And I just had a lot of fun talking to him just for those brief minutes. And so I'm very sad and sad for his family that he passed away so young.

TYSON BECKFORD, MODEL: Bernie Mac is the best. You know, rest in peace, Bernie. Love you, baby.


KING: We're back with D.L. Hughley, Cedric the entertainer, Steve Harvey, and Ashton Kutcher paying tribute to Bernie Mac. Your wife, Demi Moore, actually did a movie with Bernie Mac before you did?


KING: It was 2003's "Charlie's Angels Full Throttle." What impression did he make on her?

KUTCHER: You know, I think that -- I don't know from the movie what impression necessarily he made, but I know as a person she just couldn't -- you know, Mac's the kind of person you can't get enough of. You just want to be around him. And I don't even think she had any scenes with him in the movie. But whenever she would come to set and visit, it was like, you know, Mac was the kind of person you run into and the conversation sort of picks up where it left off six months ago. It didn't stop. It never stops. He would be in the middle of a joke when you walked away and tell you the punch line when he saw you.

He had that kind of sharp -- and I think the impression he left on Demi was just that he was a constant, a consistent person. He was just a solid individual that was the same.

KING: How do you account, D.L., for his long and happy marriage?

HUGHLEY: I think there are certain things a man got to give up to be married. I've been married for 23 years. There's certain things a man has got to give up, and one of them is hope. Bernie reminds me -- there was an old cat who I asked how he stayed married so long, and he said I do as she tells me and I eat what she puts in front of me. And the subtext is, she's going to feed me the best she has, and she's never going to tell me nothing that hurts me. And I think that Bernie felt that way to a large extent.

KING: It really works, didn't it?

HUGHLEY: Oh, yes. It'll be all right when the swelling goes down.

KING: Ashton didn't just co-star with Bernie Mac in a movie, also punked him on his MTV celebrity prank show. Let's take a look.


KUTCHER: Here's what we're going to do. Bernie Mac is going to be riding in the car with his driver, George Baker, who is our accomplice. Have you ever been to that stoplight that doesn't change? That's what we're doing to Bernie.

Tell Hawk to run it now.


MAC: No, go on through.

BAKER: Everybody else here.

MAC: Be a man. What you doing, man? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Just be cool. Let them come.

That light was broke, man. You see all those people running that light?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The light's working OK now.

MAC: You all need to stop that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys need to stop running red lights.

MAC: I hear you. You all need to get on your job a little better.

Look, man, I'm not going to piss in ping pong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that, piss in ping-pong? Let's go. Let's go.

KUTCHER: You need a ride, Mac? I punked you.

MAC: You didn't punk me.

KUTCHER: What are you talking about?

MAC: You didn't punk me.

KUTCHER: What are you talking about?

MAC: I was smooth as hell. That's why they call me the Mac.


KING: How, Steve, coming from kind of humble background, south side of Chicago, how did he stay -- Steve Harvey, how did he stay so grounded?

HARVEY: I mean, you know, I just think Bernie never bought into the whole Hollywood thing. I think Bernie was a family man. I think he loved Rhonda and he loved his daughter. And that's what kept him on the ground level. He didn't buy into any of it. He didn't -- even on the King Tour, you know, we would all go to after parties afterward, Bernie didn't go. Bernie didn't buy into none of that.

Now me and Ced and D.L., we bought into it. We were there. We were at all of the parties. Cedric.


KING: Chips in?

C. THE ENTERTAINER: Thanks, Steve, appreciate that.

HARVEY: I'm just trying to keep your 23 years rolling, baby.

HUGHLEY: And the hush falls over the crowd? I remember we used to go on -- before the Kings of Comedy, we did the Schlitz Malt Liquor, something with Bernie Mac and liquor. But we would -- after the dates would play, and these were much smaller than the Kings of Comedy, he would always stop by a gas station and he would also get an MGD and some skins and some hot sauce, every time. And I would say, Bernie, man you only bought one beer. He would said, there's only one of me. If you want a beer, get a beer. And I was like -- we'd stay up all night talking. He was always the same.

KING: Ashton, thanks very much for being by.

KUTCHER: Thanks for having me.

KING: D.L., Cedric, and Steve will come back at the end of the program for the final good-bye. Bernie was a real life father figure to his TV family, and they're here and they'll join us in an exclusive right after this.


MAC: You've seen me every week. You know how much I do for those kids. Bernie Mac is a giver. And those kids ain't nothing but takers.


MAC: It's good to be king.



MAC: There you go, America, the perfect crime. Don't look at me like that. It was victim-less. No one got hurt. Could you kids keep it down out there? I'm talking. Damn kids. See what I've got to deal with, America? Now, I must go kick those kids in the ying yang. Thousand pardons, America.


KING: " The Bernie Mac Show" is a Peabody winning series about a famous stand-up American comedian who is assigned custody of his sister's three kids after she goes into rehab. The series ran from 2001 to 2006, more than 100 original episodes. And we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Kellita Smith. She played Bernie Mac's wife, Wanda McCullough (ph), on the Bernie Mac show. Camille Winbush, who played Vanessa Nessa Tompkins on that series, Jeremy Suarez, who played Jordan Tompkins on the show, and, in Chicago, Dee Dee Davis, the actress who played Brianna "Baby Girl" Tompkins on the program.

Kellita, how did you react to the death of Bernie Mac?

KELLITA SMITH, ACTRESS: I think I'm still processing it, to be honest.

KING: You got very close?

SMITH: Yes, five years, I mean, 14 hours a day, five days out of the week, he becomes a friend. He becomes a family member.

KING: What was he like to work with, Camille?

CAMILLE WINBUSH, ACTRESS: Every day was an adventure with him. We were always laughing. He was always joking. It was a lot of fun.

KING: What was it like for you, Jeremy?

JEREMY SUAREZ, ACTOR: It was a pleasure. Bernie was the embodiment of professionalism. Everyday was -- it was amazing going into work. We had so much fun, you know. It's hard.

KING: He was a pro, though?

SUAREZ: Yes, absolutely. Definitely.

KING: And Dee Dee, the youngest member of the group in Chicago, how do you react to this?

DEE DEE DAVIS, ACTRESS: Well, when I found out, I was like really shocked. I didn't expect that to happen, because, like, we were all so close for so many years. And I was really surprised when I found out.

KING: Let's take a look at another clip of the critically acclaimed "The Bernie Mac Show." This is about teaching and tough love. Watch.




MAC: I talked to Brianna's teacher and she said the best way for a child to learn a language is to immerse her. So we aren't speaking nothing but Spanish to her and she isn't speaking nothing but Spanish to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uncle Bernie, what's this? I don't want to play the piano.

SUAREZ: And I don't want a dummy for a nephew. Look, Jordan, I rented this thing and you're going to play it.

Say adios.

WINBUSH: I'm not Brianna. Look, I'll call you back.

MAC: You're not calling anybody back. You going to start with these books. You're going to get your math grade back up.

WINBUSH: But I'm not good at math.

MAC: You're not good at math, that's because of your study habits. With a little hard work, you'll get there. Why? Because you're a natural.

WINBUSH: And what did you get in math?

MAC: It's not about me, it's about you. Study.

WINBUSH: Sounds like a D to me.

MAC: I got your D.


KING: When you got the part, Kellita, what were your impressions about working with him?

SMITH: I was already a fan, so I was excited. Are you kidding me? Every actress in town would have died to have this role. And once I got the role, we instantly bonded. And I was letting him know how grateful I was for him taking this journey.

KING: Did he have anything to do with selecting you?

SMITH: Yes, he did.

KING: Made you doubly proud then. Not just the producer or something, it was him.

SMITH: Right.

KING: Were you at all fearful, Camille? I mean, he was a giant of a person.

WINBUSH: Oh, yes, and just being in a room with him was almost a little bit overwhelming, because his presence is so strong. But once you get to know him, he's so laid back and down to Earth. He made you feel comfortable in any situation.

KING: And you, Jeremy, were you hesitant at all? Fearful?

SUAREZ: Not really. I mean, Bernie was the type of person who right when you met him, you felt comfortable with him. Everywhere he went just laughs followed and good times followed him. Right when I first met him, we instantly connected, I think. It really helped make that show good.

KING: How about you, Dee Dee, were you a little apprehensive, worried?

DAVIS: No, not really. I didn't really know who he was in the beginning. When we started working, it was like, well, he's really nice, like, I started to like him. And over the years. I started to like him more, and he is a really cool, laid back, funny person.

KING: During the run of that show, they discovered that he had an illness, a disease. We'll talk about that. We'll talk about what life lessons did Bernie Mac pass on to that family when we come back.


KING: We have some more classic material from "the Bernie Mac Show." This clip is another example of Bernie directly addressing the audience and talking about kids. Watch.


MAC: I'm here to tell you that I'm going to kill one of them kids. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love them. They my blood. I'll give them the shirt off my back. You ever seen a chicken with its neck wrung, laying to the side all lazy and week? That what I'm going to do to those kids. Talk be to me more one more time, snap. I'm going to snap their necks off. They're too sassy. They're too grown today. They talk back too much.

I know what you're saying to the Mac. I don't care what you're talking about. Bernie Mac beat his kids. I don't care.


KING: During the run of the show, Bernie Mac revealed he had Sarcoidosis, a chronic immune disorder. Was his health ever an issue during the show?

SMITH: Towards the end, but like the guys said, he never let you know it was an issue for him. He was a trooper, which is why this is such a surprise, because you feel like he would always conquer anything. He was invincible.

KING: Did you learn good lessons from him, Camille?

WINBUSH: Yes, I mean, every day, he was giving us advise on life and everything else in between. He always told us, don't get a big head. It can go away with a snap.

KING: He never got that, did he? He never acted self-important?


KING: He was genuine? Did he help you in life, Jeremy?

SUAREZ: Oh, yes, Bernie was like a father figure to me. He always stressed hard work and humility about everything. And he never acted like he was a star or -- if you came on the set, he would make you feel comfortable and welcome. It was really good.

KING: Dee Dee, when you started working with him, you were what, four?

DAVIS: Yes, I was four years old. It was such a long time ago.

KING: Oh, ages.

DAVIS: I learned everything. I learned how to ride my bike, tie my shoes. He taught me how to snap my fingers. There's so many things I really learned from him. KING: You're all going to the memorial service?

SMITH: Absolutely.

KING: You're there already, right, Dee Dee?

DAVIS: Pardon me?

KING: You're in Chicago already?


KING: I thank you all for spending these moments with us. I know how hard this has been for you.

SMITH: Thank you for having us.

KING: You'll all be in Chicago, right? Kellita Smith, Camille Winbush, Jeremy Suarez and Dee Dee Davis of "The Bernie Mac Show."

Coming up, more with the Kings of Comedy and my favorite scene with Bernie Mac. Don't go away.



C. THE ENTERTAINER: I love the game of basketball. When I pass it to my teammates, the twin towers here, who would be Tim Duncan and David Robinson, the Admiral.

MAC: Got to go Phil Jackson. Phil man, that's just philosophy man, motivating. He's a teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's a rat too, a white man with a high ass.


KING: Bernie Mac had four projects in post-production when he died. One is the upcoming movie "Old Dogs." That cast include John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston. They released this statement about Bernie: "we are heartbroken. He will be deeply missed. He was a wonderful, kind, and gentle man."

Bernie Mac had also finished work on "Soul Men" with Samuel L. Jackson and Isaac Hayes. In a tragic twist of fate, Isaac Hayes died this past weekend too. That's kind of ironic, isn't it, D.L.?

HUGHLEY: It is. It really is.

KING: They're in a movie together.

HUGHLEY: Right, it's really kind -- they're always like that Hollywood kind of legend, people die in threes. I think Bernie Bernstein, Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes all passed in the same 48 hours. KING: Bernie Bernstein should be noticed too. Giant, absolute giant in television.


C. THE ENTERTAINER: I did my first production deal with Bernie Bernstein. It was a great mentor.

KING: Great man. Steve Harvey, a little ironic about Isaac Hayes?

HARVEY: Yes, I mean -- man, it's just one hammer after the next. That's -- that's a tough blow. Isaac Hayes was an icon, you know? He was -- he had an album out called "Black Moses." That's really -- in our community, culturally, that's what he was, you know? We don't lay the title of Moses on you too easy. You know? You really got to earn the title Moses.

So that was a tough blow, man. It was a rough weekend. You find out that the brothers was in a movie together and it was going to be released, that's -- I don't know what god has said with this one, but, you know, it's god's call. So we just have to --

KING: I don't either.

HARVEY: We have to listen.

KING: I was lucky enough to work with Bernie Mac in the movie "Mister 2000." He plays an aging baseball story. His nickname is Mister 3000, rather. It turns out he's two hits short of 3,000, faulty batting statistics. So he goes back into the game to earn the nickname and try to get into the hall of fame. Take a look.


KING: They were in fifth place when you got there.

MAC: Well, I finally got them playing patent Sam Ross baseball.

KING: Stan Rose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it going be a home run.

MAC: The faster you throw it in, the quicker it's going out.




MAC: Hey girl, you been watching? The whole world loves me again, baby. Stan Ross, the king of swing. Sweetheart, I'm going national.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Last year, Bernie Mac told David Letterman he was planning to retire. He said he was still producing two films, but he wanted to enjoy his life. Do you buy that, D.L.?

HUGHLEY: Oh I think that he would have probably retired stand- up. I think it was a grind on him. But I don't think he would ever stop from entertainment.

KING: Cedric?

C. THE ENTERTAINER: Yes, I that's what he meant. The disease was really hard on him to travel. If you have a lung respiratory disease, you don't want to be up in airplanes, that sort of thing. You want to take it easy. He definitely wanted to entertain people, keep creating shows, keep creating ideas, and that's something he would have really continued to do.

KING: Steve Harvey, do you buy the retirement idea?

HARVEY: I don't know. I thought about that a lot when I heard him on Letterman say it. I don't know. I couldn't see it. Bernie was too big out there. He was too big on stage. For Bernie Mac not to tell jokes again, not to stand on the stage with a microphone, a bar stool, a spotlight and a bottle of water, I can't even see that, you know?

KING: Neither can I. You're right. By the way, Bernie Mac's family is asking that donations be made in his honor to the Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis. You can get the specifics on our web page at Again, that's the Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis. The address, 40 East Ninth Street, Suite 61, Chicago, 60605.

Thanks very much. I guess you'll all be speaking in Chicago on Saturday, huh? It's going to be rough. It will be funny, but rough at the same time.

HUGHLEY: I think sometimes death has a way of sterilizing some people's lives. You'll find even the most heinous of person, somebody will say something great about. Then you'll find him struggling for stories, he loved pets. You don't really have to struggle for great stories with Bernie Mac. He was a man's man. We'll love and miss him.

KING: Thank you very much, D.L. Hughley, Cedric the Entertainer and Steve Harvey, for your wonderful memories of a wonderful guy. I liked him a lot. Bernie Mac, we'll miss you.

That's it for tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Again, that Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis, the address 40 East Ninth Street, Chicago. You get further information on our webpage, We'll see you tomorrow night. It's time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?