Dirk Shafer gained fame as the Playgirl Man of the Year in 1992 and was known as an icon to the gay community, but this week he met an untimely end after being found dead in his car.
The 52-year-old was found in a vehicle a few blocks from his home in Los Angeles. The coroner’s office said there were no signs of foul play, and it appears that Shafer died of natural causes. Friends told RumorFix that he may have suffered a heart attack.
Dirk Shafer made waves back in 1992 when he used his platform in Playgirl to come out as gay.
Shafer later reflected on his coming out in a 1995 mockumentary Man of the Year, which he both wrote and directed. He continued his career in show business with Circuit, a movie about the gay party circuit that won best film at the 2001 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Shafer’s apparent heart attack came as a shock to many. He prided himself on his physique and was working as a Pilates and fitness trainer in West Hollywood at the time of his death.
After his death, Dirk Shafer was remembered as a warm-hearted man and an inspiration to many in the gay community.
“I just hugged you a few days ago and you looked so happy and well,” wrote Wilson Cruz, who appeared in My So Called Life. “I’ll miss your face, your energy, and your positive spirit. Thank you for all of your encouragement and the laughs, sweet man. I’ll never forget it or you.”
— BEN PATRICK JOHNSON (@benpatrick90069) March 6, 2015
Lost a good man today. #DirkShafer dear pal and awesome trainer for 17 years. Sending love to his family and so many friends. Be at peace, D
— Eric McCormack (@EricMcCormack) March 6, 2015
Family members are reportedly planning a memorial for Dirk Shafer to be held in West Hollywood. A funeral date was not announced.
[Image via Twitter]