Tyler Perry Announces His Mother's Death

(CNN) -- Tyler Perry's mother -- who he has said helped inspire his popular Madea character -- died Tuesday, the film maker announced on his Web site.

Willie Maxine Perry, 64, lived in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Perry grew up.

Perry sent e-mails to fans four months ago asking them to pray for his mother's health, but the nature of her illness was not disclosed.

In one message sent in early September, Perry said she "is doing much better."

"I just spent the weekend laughing, reminiscing and being grateful to God," Perry wrote. "She is a strong woman."

In October, Perry sent an e-mail -- and posted on his Web site -- revealing graphic details about the sexual, physical and emotional abuse he said he suffered as a child.

"I'm tired of holding this in," Perry wrote, "... so I've decided to give some away."

Violence in the home caused Perry's mother to pack up the car with him and his sisters and drive from Louisiana to California, he said. Her husband reported the car stolen, and the family members went to jail until the father came to get them. Perry said his father beat his mother all the way home.

Attempts to reach his father for comment were unsuccessful.

Perry has said in numerous interviews that his Madea character was based on the women in his childhood -- particularly his mother and an aunt.

His seven movies -- most featuring Perry dressed in drag as Madea -- have grossed nearly $400 million in ticket sales in the last five years, according to Box Office Mojo.

Perry also is the writer, director and actor in boisterous comedies such as "Madea's Family Reunion" and "I Can Do Bad All By Myself."

Perry also produces two sitcoms -- "Meet The Browns" and "House of Payne" -- which are seen on the TBS cable channel and syndicated on U.S. television stations. TBS is part of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.


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