1 October 1939
|Died||13 June 2016
Torrance, California, U.S.
Mihaly "Michu" Meszaros (Hungarian: Mészáros Mihály; October 1, 1939 – June 13, 2016) was a Hungarian actor, circus performer/entertainer and stuntman, who as an American citizen was best remembered as a performer with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the man behind the costume in the NBC sitcom ALF. He was 2 feet 9 inches (84 cm) tall. Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Meszaros was a beloved television and film actor, also appearing opposite pop singer Michael Jackson in a Pepsi commercial and on the Strange Days album cover for The Doors. His last appearance was in 2015's Death to Cupid.
For the first few seasons of the ALF television series, Meszaros donned a costume whenever a full-body shot was needed for scenes of the alien walking, running, or standing. For the most part, however, upper-body shots of of a mechanical puppet were used instead, since the full-body costume was extremely hot and uncomfortable for the actor to wear for long periods of time under bright studio lights. The ALF puppet and costume can be distinguished on first view because the head proportions are slightly different.
Meszaros also was a member of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as the former "smallest man in the world". As a youngster, he attended a state-run school of circus arts, becoming well versed in such performing skills as juggling, acrobatics and pantomime. For many years, American circus producers Irvin Feld and Kenneth Feld had heard of the existence, somewhere in Hungary, of a man almost too small to believe. The producers finally located him in 1973; astonished at his size and talents, they made immediate arrangements to bring Meszaros from the small Hungarian circus to the United States.
As a circus performer, he trained and presented white standard poodles for his act. Standing on their hind legs, the dogs appeared much taller than their diminutive but commanding trainer. Circus audiences nationwide cheered his dignified though slightly comedic role, in which he was billed as the "Smallest Man in the World." In the so-called Grand Spectacle performance or 1982 and 1983, Meszaros would portray a character known as the Marshal of Marshmallow Gulch, resplendent in a well-tailored white, silver and gold costume encrusted with rhinestones, along with matching cowboy hat and silver boots.
On June 12, 2016, his manager Dennis Varga announced that Meszaros was in a comatose state in a Los Angeles hospital, after Varga discovered him unconscious on his bathroom floor. He had suffered numerous health issues since a stroke eight years previously. He never recovered, and on June 13, 2016, he died at the age of 76, at the Providence Little Company of Mary medical centre in Torrance; no specific cause of death was given.
- H.R. Pufnstuf (1969) as Taylor
- ALF: (1986) as ALF (credited as one of Alf's "Assistants")
- Waxwork: (1988) as Hans
- Big Top Pee-wee: (1988) as Andy
- Look Who's Talking: (1989) baby stunt performer
- Dear John: (1991) Episode #66 Louise the Hero as Mishka
- Freaked: (1993) as George Ramirez #3
- Warlock: The Armageddon: (1993) as Augusto
- Death to Cupid: (2015) as Leprechaun
- Dunbrow, Marsha (April 26, 1982). "Only 33 Inches Tall, Mihaly 'Michu' Mezaros Is the Smallest Guy Under the Big Top". People Magazine. Retrieved June 27, 2014.
- "Michu Ln". Google Maps (maps.google.com). Retrieved 2011-11-01.
- "ALF star Michu Meszaros, 76, fighting for his life after slipping into a coma".