Actor Fred Berry, best known for playing the outrageous, squeaky-voiced Rerun on the 1970s TV sitcom What's Happening!, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles apparently of natural causes, The Associated Press reports. He was 52. The county coroner is investigating, but friends told AP Berry had been ill due to a recent stroke.
What's Happening!, which ran from 1976-1979, focused on three teenage friends--Rerun, Raj and Dwayne--who learn about life, women and trouble while growing up in Los Angeles. Berry became a television darling and wore Rerun's trademark red beret and suspenders in real life as well.
Yet, Berry's success on the show was clouded by his heavy use of marijuana and cocaine. "There were dealers right there in the studio, people that worked there," he said in 1996. By the time What's Happening! ended, Berry said he had blown more than a million dollars on drugs, cars, homes and an airplane, AP reports.
Rerun was brought back to life in 1985, when What's Happening! was revived as the syndicated What's Happening Now!, but Berry quit in a contract dispute after the first season; the show ended in 1987.
By 1986, Berry had abandoned drugs and started speaking to churches, schools and other groups, even working as a minister in Madison, Ala., AP reports.
Berry recently appeared on E! Entertainment's Star Dates, MTV's Doggy Fizzle Televizzle with Snoop Dogg, VH1's I Love the '70s and in a cameo role in the David Spade comedy film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Berry married a dancer while in his 20s, and the two divorced, remarried and divorced again. Berry also married and divorced his second wife twice, most recently in 1991. He also married and divorced two other women, AP reports.