Joseph Wayne Miller Dies At 36: Former Child Actor Played Salami Sam In 1995 Film ‘Heavyweights’


Former child actor Joseph Wayne Miller, who played the role of Salami Sam in the 1995 comedy Heavyweights, died in his sleep on Tuesday. He was 36 years old.

Miller’s cause of death is unknown, but a report from TMZ suggests that he died in his sleep on Tuesday in his Chicago home and was found dead by his girlfriend. His mother, Patricia Clark, told the Chicago Tribune that Joseph suffered from deep apnea, though it was not mentioned if the condition might have played a role in his passing.

Aside from his memorable role as weight loss camper Salami Sam in Heavyweights, a 1995 film headlined by Aaron Schwartz and Ben Stiller, Joseph Wayne Miller had only one other film role, a bit part in the 1992 Tom Selleck film Folks. The Chicago Tribune noted that Joseph graduated from Maine South High School in 2000, and later on found employment as a radiology technician, a disc jockey, and a property manager at his mother’s office.

Despite the fact that he appeared in just two films before quietly retiring from acting, Miller enjoyed his experience in the world of entertainment, as he related in a 1995 interview with the Chicago Tribune. He said that shooting Heavyweights was “definitely the best thing” that ever happened to him, and while he was hoping at the time to continue acting in movies and television, he told the publication that he also had plans to study computer science or drafting in college.

In the aftermath of Joseph Wayne Miller’s death, two of his Heavyweights co-workers sent tributes to him in statements issued to Page Six. Judd Apatow, who wrote and co-produced the 1995 film, said that working with Miller was “pure joy.”

“We could not have loved spending time with him more. He made everyone around him so happy. What a terrible loss.”

Aaron Schwartz, who played the main protagonist, weight loss camper Gerald Garner, also gave a brief statement eulogizing his fellow child actor.

“Joe always brought the fun to the set. He was one of those people you always wanted to be around. So sad. So young. Rest In Peace Joe.”

Joseph Wayne Miller’s death came just eight days after another 1990s child actor was reported to have passed away at a very young age. On New Year’s Day, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Grace Under Fire star Jon Paul Steuer died at the age of 33. Likewise, no official cause of death has been announced for Steuer, who also quit acting at a young age, as noted by Variety.