LOS ANGELES-Actor Verne Troyer, who was best known for his role as Mini-Me in the "Austin Powers" movies, has died at the age of 49.
"It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today," a statement posted Saturday on Troyer's Facebook page said. No cause of death was given.
Troyer, who starred in a number of commercials and films over the years, gained international fame as Mini-Me, a 2-foot-8 version of Mike Myers' Dr. Evil, in "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember."
Troyer rose to stardom in the late 1990s. At that time, he roamed the red carpet, sat for celebrity interviews and passed out business cards that read "The Biggest Little Man in Show Business."
The actor grew up in rural Michigan, where he said his parents treated him the same as his other siblings, who were average-sized.
"I had to do everything they had to do," Troyer told the Los Angeles Times in 1999. "My brother used to wrestle in high school and college, so I grew up around that."
"I got disciplined just as much as they did, if not more. I was pretty bad when I was younger. (Mini-Me) is like my natural role. I was meant to play the part."
His first break into movies was as a stunt double for a 9-month-old baby in the 1994 slapstick comedy "Baby's Day Out." Since then he's played everything from a baby panda in "The Amazing Panda Adventure" and a pro wrestler in "My Giant" to Santa Claus in "Jingle All the Way" and a young gorilla in the current thriller "Instinct."
"Austin Powers" director Jay Roach told The Times in 1999 he was awed by Troyer's talents. "He's not only an amazing stunt man and extremely agile, he can dance and he can act. He has a very expressive face and great comic timing."
Troyer struggled in more recent years. In 2008, he was at the center of a legal dispute over a sex tape involving him and an ex-girlfriend that generated weeks of headlines.
Troyer was hospitalized this month after friends, concerned about his behavior, called authorities.
On the night of April 2, a friend called police and said that the person who lived at Troyer's North Hollywood address "was depressed and wanted the police to come check it out," said Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Matthew Barrick, without confirming that it was Troyer.
Officers were dispatched, and about an hour later, they requested paramedics for "unspecified medical aid," a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman said.
About 15 minutes later, an individual at the house was taken to the hospital, officials said. Questions on the person's condition were directed to the mental evaluation unit at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley.
A message posted to Troyer's Instagram account the next day said, "Asking you to keep Verne in your thoughts and prayers. He's getting the best care possible and resting comfortably."
The statement posted on his Facebook page Saturday referenced the recent troubles.
"Verne was a fighter when it came to his own battles," the statement said. "Over the years he's struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much. During this recent time of adversity he was baptized while surrounded by his family."
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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194):TROYER OBIT