Michu Meszaros, who played Alf in the iconic 1980s sitcom of the same name has died, according to reports. Michu Meszaros’ manager and good friend Dennis Varga says that the Alf actor passed away due to complications from a stroke. Meszaros was 76-years-old. Michu Meszaros reportedly had a stroke last Thursday, and according to his manager, he had remained hospitalized since. Michu passed away on Sunday night, according to a CNN report.
Michu Meszaros’ small stature (he stood only 33 inches) allowed him to play the starring role in the sitcom Alf, as he fit into the costume of the iconic fuzzy character with ease. The title role in the Alf series was also portrayed by a puppet, but during the first two seasons when the show’s producers needed to depict Alf running and moving around, Michu Meszaros was the man behind the mask.
According to reports, Michu Meszaros fought desperately for his life in a Los Angeles hospital following last Thursday’s stroke. His manager reportedly found the 76-year-old actor unconscious and unresponsive in a bathroom on Thursday, at which time Michu Meszaros was rushed to the hospital. Meszaros had remained in a coma from his Thursday hospitalization until his death Sunday night.
The Alf star had reportedly suffered a previous stroke about eight years ago and has been dealing with pervasive health problems since. According to reports, Michu Meszaros’ friend and manager Denniz Varga had been under strict instructions not to remove him from life support, so it is believed that the Alf star passed away naturally.
In order for Michu Meszaros to play the role in Alf that made him famous, the pint-sized star had to wear a hot and heavy full body suit. The costume was reportedly insufferably hot and uncomfortable under the studio lights, and this is why Alf was more commonly portrayed in the TV show with a puppet and only shown from the shoulders up.
However, at times during Alf’s four seasons on NBC, the show’s creators needed to show the series’ star in all of his bodily glory. These were the times that Michu Meszaros would step in. There were subtle proportional differences between the 33-inch actor’s costume and the Alf puppet, so astute viewers of the show were able to tell when they were watching Michu Meszaros in action as opposed to discreet and masterful puppetry.
Michu Meszaros didn’t voice the title character in the Alf series. Rather, the character’s distinctive voice was portrayed by another actor by the name of Paul Fusco.
While Alf may have been his claim to fame, Michu Meszaro’s career started years before he was signed to the Alf series. The Hungarian-born performer reportedly became part of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus in 1973. His resume included performances for former U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
He also had some famous friends, including Michael Jackson. Michu Meszaro became friends with the iconic and historic King of Pop after Michael Jackson saw Michu Meszaro perform, says friend and manager Dennis Varga.
Michu Meszaros also appeared in other movies and had TV roles as well. He had a few small roles in memorable films including Big Top Pee-Wee and Look Who’s Talking. He also appeared in the television series’ H.R.Pufnstuf and Dear John.
Since he fell ill, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise funds for Michu Meszaros’ final medical expenses as well as to help cover his funeral costs. So far, the fundraising effort has raised $700 of the $1,500 being sought.
According to the GoFundMe page, Michu Meszaros was born Mihaly Meszaros, translated to English as “Michael Butcher.” He was known as “the smallest man on earth” and despite his small stature, he was physically proportionate.
Michu Meszaros was referred to by Ringling Brothers as “one of the biggest stars ever to perform in the circus.”
Michu Meszaros’ GoFundMe page also outlined his relationship with his friend and manager Dennis Varga, with whom Michu Meszaros had been friends with since 1974. The family reportedly invited Alf actor Michu Meszaros to live in their home in 1975, and he resided with the family until last Thursday.
[Image via ABC]