10/23/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
Hefty actor Fred Berry, 52, famous for playing the squeaky voiced, red-beret-wearing Rerun on the 1970s TV sitcom "What's Happening!", died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles apparently of natural causes, police officer Jason Lee tells the Associated Press.
The county coroner was investigating, but friends said Berry had been ill because of a recent stroke. No foul play was suspected.
Berry, who recently had a cameo in the David Spade movie comedy "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star," wore his trademark red beret and suspenders in real life, though it was unclear whether he originally brought his own style to the character of Rerun or whether he was forever mimicking the goofball character that made him famous.
"What's Happening!" ran from 1976-1979 and focused on three teenage friends (Rerun, Raj and Dwayne) who cope with life and women while growing up in Los Angeles. According to Berry, the character got the name Rerun because every summer he had to rerun all the classes he flunked during the school year.
Berry's success on the show was clouded by his heavy use of marijuana and cocaine, he admitted, claiming he had spent more than $1 million on drugs, cars, homes and his own plane. When acting gigs dried up, he turned to appearing for pay at shopping malls.
Lately, reports AP, he had earned money by calling fans on the telephone, taking part in a service called HollywoodIsCalling.com. (About $30 would earn a fan a 30-second call.)
Berry was married six times to four different women (he married two women twice). When diagnosed with diabetes in 1990, he reportedly lost 108 pounds. He also had become a Baptist minister, say reports.