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2016 has been a particularly brutal year when it comes to celebrities dying, and we're not even at the halfway point. One of the most recent entertainment losses involves the man behind (or inside of) one of the most popular TV characters of the 1980s, as ALF actor Michu Meszaros has passed away at the age of 76.
The guy inside the furry Melmacian's full-body costume, Michu Meszaros developed health issues later in his life, reportedly kicked off by a stroke around eight years ago. Last week, his longtime manager Dennis Varga found Meszaros unresponsive at his home, and Varga immediately took him to an L.A. hospital. Meszaros remained in a coma (with Varga reportedly having been given set instructions about not turning off life support if such an event came up) all the way up until his death earlier today, according to TMZ.
Dubbed the "smallest man on Earth" along with similar other boasts, the Hungary-born Michu Meszaros was only around 34 inches tall during his adult life, a size that helped him land his biggest jobs. The first of those was his place within both Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, helped along by Meszaros attending a school specifically devoted to circus performing. His success under the big top led to acting roles in episodes of TV shows H.R. Pufnstuf and Dear John, while his big screen work could be seen in films like Waxwork and Big Top Pee-wee (as seen in the image below). His last major-ish role was for 1993's Warlock: The Armageddon, though he returned from his acting hiatus in 2015 for the short film Death to Cupid, co-starring Reno 911's Carlos Alazraqui.
None of those roles could touch the massive popularity of ALF, though. Premiering in 1986, the sitcom was a big hit for NBC, which ended up cancelling the show after four seasons despite initially saying Season 5 would happen. While ALF (or Gordon Shumway) was given a voice by show creator Paul Fusco and usually appeared in puppet-form when seen onscreen, Meszaros was the guy inside of the full suit seen on occasion. It was used more in first season, though Meszaros' discomfort and other issues limited the full costume in later seasons (as well as that airline safety video and appearance on NBC's 75th anniversary special).
Meszaros was also notably a friend of Michael Jackson's, and the actor reportedly spent quite a bit of time at Neverland Ranch. He also appeared with the pop star in multiple Pepsi commercials.
We here at Cinema Blend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Michu Meszaros in their time of mourning. A GoFundMe page has been set up to deal with the medical and funeral costs.