Joe Fleishaker, an actor who weighed in at 500-pounds and became Troma Entertainment’s biggest action star, has died. He was 62.
He passed away Monday at the Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York.
Fleishaker made his name starring in the cult “Toxic Avenger” franchise, along with films including “Poultrygeist,” “Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D.,” “Terror Firmer” and “Tromeo and Juliet.”
The cause of death has not yet been determined, but the Brooklyn native suffered from morbid obesity and congestive heart failure, and his family suspects it was a heart attack.
“The Troma Team and I are truly heartbroken by the news that Joe Fleishaker has passed away,” Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma Entertainment and creator of “The Toxic Avenger,” wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “He was a great actor and a great friend. Toxie weeps. RIP Joe, Troma will never be the same without you.”
Fleishaker was first cast in Troma’s 1988 action-comedy “Troma’s War” as an extra, in which he played a member of a violent terrorist sect. Kaufman was so amused by Fleishaker’s screen presence as an obese guerrilla soldier that he ended up giving him more screen time throughout the film.
Outside of his film roles, Fleishaker became a favorite of Troma fans for his numerous appearances in the company’s many promotional videos and shorts, in which he assumed the role of Troma co-president Michael Herz, who typically preferred to stay out of the public eye, leading many fans to believe he really was Herz.
He also became a familiar face on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” starring in a variety of skits and playing different characters.
Fleishaker successfully lost 160 pounds after being hospitalized in 2012.