Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros, the Hungarian-born performer who segued from life with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to semi-fame as the sometime-star of the TV sitcom ALF, has died. The self-proclaimed “world’s shortest man” — he stood 2″9′ tall — was 76 and had been taken to a Los Angeles hospital in a coma last week, his manager, Dennis Varga, told the web site TMZ, where he died early this morning. Varga confirmed the death and told TMZ that he has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the actor’s funeral and medical bills.

ALF — which stood for Alien Life Form — ran on NBC from September 1986 to March 1990. ALF was a smart-alec extraterrestrial who was taken in by the suburban middle-class Tanner family. Although the character was created and voiced by puppeteer Paul Fusco, Meszaros donned the costume when full-body shots were needed and was credited as an ALF assistant.

Meszaros appeared in Big Top Pee-wee (1988) and Warlock: The Armageddon (1993) among other films.

Born in Hungary, Meszaros started out as a local circus performer, eventually ending up commanding a dog act, among other roles, with Ringling Bros. He was befriended by Michael Jackson and became a frequent guest at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Meszaros had been in ill health since suffering a stroke eight years ago.