DOWNTOWN — Bernard "Bernie Mac" McCullough would have been "truly touched" by a state ceremony Wednesday that recognized the late entertainer with his own license plate.
"My husband would truly feel so touched to be honored this way for his birthday," said Rhonda McCullough, his widow. "The outpouring of love from people five years after his death means a lot to me."
Secretary of State Jesse White made the presentation of the special plate, emblazoned "B MAC,'' in his downtown office in honor of what would have been Mac's 56th birthday this Saturday.
"Bernard Mac was more than just an actor. He was a man who cared about others and a man who helped so many people better their lives," White said. "I had the pleasure of meeting him twice, and both times I was impressed with him."
Mac, who was from Englewood, will also be recognized at a special town hall meeting at the University of Illinois at Chicago on the Near West Side, where experts will meet to discuss research on sarcoidosis, the disease Mac died of in 2008.
Dr. Nadera Sweiss, associate professor of rheumatology at UIC Health, and Dr. Patricia Finn, head of the Medicine Department at the UIC College of Medicine, will participate in the meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the UIC College of Nursing, 845 S. Damen Ave.
After the forum, at 1 p.m., there will be a tour of the Bernie Mac STAR Center, which opened last year at the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott Ave., suite 3060.
At Wednesday's dedication, Mac's daughter Je'Niece McCullough, 35, recalled the great sense of humor of her dad, who starred in "The Bernie Mac Show" from 2001 to 2006.
"I am reminded of my dad because he [was] always saying, 'If you want special or important just die.' So all I can say is you are important and special now," she jokingly said.
Je'Niece recalled one of the most memorable moments she had with her famous dad.
"I was about 11 years old and I was in my front room reading and playing a cassette of a song. He got mad and took the tape away because there was a lot of cursing," Je'Niece said. "He asked me if I was bothered by all the cursing on the tape and I told him, 'No, that's how you talk everyday.' He got mad and kept the tape and later gave me that tape back when I was 22 years old."
She added that some of her dad's favorite TV shows were "The Honeymooners," "Benny Hill," "Andy Griffin" and the "Three Stooges."
"Everybody knew he was funny but a lot of people might not know that he was a sensitive person who wore his heart on his sleeve," Je'Niece said.