Fans are in mourning this week after Stephen Furst, who was best known for his role in the classic 1978 comedy “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” passed away on Friday. He was 63 years-old.
The New York Times reported that Furst’s family confirmed his death and said the cause was congestive heart failure brought on by complications of diabetes.
In “Animal House,” Furst played Flounder, a chubby pledge who is both cluelessly upbeat and charmingly idiotic. In her review of the film in The New York Times, Janet Maslin wrote, “Stephen Furst does some very successful scene-stealing as the house blimp.”
Though Furst went on to have a lengthy acting career, he was always most proud of the role that he would be best known for.
“In a way, he built a whole career from that role, because many of the characters he played were different versions of the same energy that character had,” his son Nathan said.
Furst had a decades-long career in Hollywood that also included regular roles on the 1980s hospital dramedy “St. Elsewhere” as Dr. Elliot Axelrod and in the 1990s science-fiction series “Babylon 5” as Vir Cotto, a nobleman who becomes emperor of the Centauri Republic.
Oh boy, was he great. Farewell Flounder. RIP Stephen Furst. pic.twitter.com/MKe3M3jPgR
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 18, 2017
Though he was diagnosed with diabetes at 17, Furst never really faced the condition until the 1990s, when a foot infection in the mid-1990s led doctors to tell him that he might need to have his leg amputated.
“Like most severely overweight people, I had to hit a rock-hard bottom before I’d take responsibility for the consequences of neglecting my own health,” Furst later said. This wake-up call led to him losing a significant amount of weight and thus, taking a leading role in educating others about the disease.
Furst is survived by his wife and sons as well as two grandchildren. Rest in peace, Stephen Furst!