Michael was an American actor, singer, piano prodigy and - with an IQ of 178 - a bit of a genius. What he lacked was height and he never grew taller than 3 feet 10 inches. Here I am at the hotel in Chelsea where he was staying while making a film. The 38-year-old appeared to be asleep in bed but had died.
His mum said his big brain showed evidence of its power when he was just 3 years old when he claimed he could read. She thought he was joking but he picked up a nearby newspaper and read it to her. Later on she wasn't surprised by his achievements as he won countless awards at school. He lived a normal life despite his physical limitations and went on to earn a degree in journalism in Miami University. It was a waste of time though - by the time he’s graduated he wanted to be an actor.
A small percentage of actors make it into films but Michael was ambitious despite his limitations. He knew the odds were stacked high against him; he also had chondrodystrophy (an inherited bone disorder), osteoarthritis, short-sightedness, chronic shortness of breath and permanently dislocated hips. Despite being in constant pain he went to New York where he sang in bars and won parts in plays. His career suddenly took off though and he used his dwarfism as a tool to win parts in various television shows. Aged 32 he married a model called Joy Talbot but it was an unhappy and childless union and they divorced a few years later.
By the time he died he was making a historical film called The Abdication. He’d been working on set on the day he died. He’d returned to his room at The Cadogan Hotel in Chelsea to freshen up and have a snooze. When the door went unanswered it was opened by management and the actor was found dead in bed.
Here I am outside the hotel. It's a five-star place now and I felt scruffy just looking at it. It looks like it's the kind of place where a mushroom soup starter costs £26.99. I'd been here before as it's where Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895 for sodomy.
From The Daily Mail newspaper in July 2021...