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‘Gentle giant’ remembered at memorial

(AP) / 12 September 2012

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 on Monday marked by heartfelt speeches, rousing gospel performances and photos of the always-smiling star.

Hanks (seen right) 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 on September 3 at age 54, having never fully recovered from a heart attack in July.

Former reality TV star the Rev. Omarosa O. Manigault, who was Duncan’s fiancée, also attended along with Duncan’s mother, sister and nephews.

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.”

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.

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.

Other speakers included actors David Boreanaz and Geoff Stults, and Bones creator Hart Hanson.

 
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