Actor, comedian and TV director Stephen Furst — best known for his roles as Flounder in”Animal House,” Vir Cotto the ’90s sci-fi series “Babylon 5,” and Dr. Elliot Axelrod on “St. Elsewhere” — died on Friday, his sons announced. He was 62.
“Actor and comedian Stephen Furst died on June 16, 2017 due to complications from diabetes,” sons Nathan and Griffith said in a statement posted to Furst’s Facebook page.
Born Stephen Nelson Feuerstein in 1955, Furst grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, and graduated from the theater program at Virginia Commonwealth University.
He began his acting career in the mid 1970s, first coming to prominence in the role of fraternity pledge Kent “Flounder” Dorfman in “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” a role he reprised in the short-lived television spinoff, “Delta House.”
In 1983, Furst joined NBC’s “St. Elsewhere,” playing Dr. Elliot Axelrod until the show ended its run in 1988. In 1994, he joined the science fiction series “Babylon 5,” playing Centauri diplomat Vir Cotto. Cotto remained one of the show’s central characters throughout its run, and Furst’s iconic wig became a geek touchstone.
His other credits include “Midnight Madness,” “National Lampoon’s Class Reunion,” and “The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea,” as well as an appearance on “CHiPs,” among other television shows. He retired from acting in 2006, but continued to work as a producer.
Furst, who lost both his parents to diabetes at young ages, was open about his struggle with the disease throughout his life. His life was saved thanks to an anonymous kidney donor, a person Furst publicly thanked on his Facebook page years later. Furst was also an advocate for people with diabetes and was a celebrity spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
“Steve has a long list of earthly accomplishments,” his sons wrote. “He was known to the world as an brilliant and prolific actor and filmmaker, but to his family and many dear friends he was also a beloved husband, father and kind friend whose memory will always be a blessing.”
The cast and crew of “Babylon 5” were known for being particularly close-knit, and appropriately they were among the first of Furst’s peers to pay tribute when news of his death became public.
Series creator J. Michael Straczynski called him a “really decent, great, kind guy” and offered his condolences on behalf of the entire show.
“I just received news of the passing of another member of our #Babylon5 family. Stephen Furst “Vir Cotto,” RIP, my friend,” said Furst’s Babylon 5 costar Bruce Boxleitner on Twitter.
“Stephen was always sweet, funny, professional, engaged, open and a joy to know,” fellow “Babylon 5” alum Bill Mumy said. “He and I had some wonderful scenes acting together for five years on Babylon 5. Stephen had great comedic timing and was a fine actor. As a director, he was inventive and a true pleasure to work for. But more importantly, Stephen was a loving father and husband and I was fortunate to call him a friend.”
Other friends and peers also paid tribute.
See the full statement from his sons below.
Actor and comedian Stephen Furst died on June 16, 2017 due to complications from diabetes. Steve has a long list of…
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