Benji Gregory, Former ‘ALF’ Child Star, Dead at 46

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Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Benji Gregory, the former child actor who played Brian Tanner on the 1980s NBC sitcom ALF, has died at 46. His sister, Rebecca Hertzberg-Pfaffinger, told the New York Times that Gregory and his service dog Hans were found dead in his car on June 13 in a bank’s parking lot in Peoria, Arizona. Pfaffinger noted to TMZ that her brother suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, and a sleep disorder that could keep him awake for days at a time. According to ABC7 Los Angeles, the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office said Gregory’s cause of death is still pending. But Pfaffinger suggested in a Facebook post that Gregory went to the bank on the night of June 12 to deposit residual checks, fell asleep in his car, and ultimately died from “vehicular heatstroke.” (Several parts of Arizona have endured record-breaking high temperatures this summer.)

Born into an acting family in 1978, Gregory began starring on ALF when he was 8 years old. Over the course of 101 episodes in his role as Brian, he protected Lucky the cat from ALF’s feline cravings and sang as an asparagus in a school play. During the ‘80s and ‘90s, Gregory took roles in several other shows and films, including The A-Team, Punky Brewster, The Twilight Zone, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, and Fantastic Max. However, he ultimately left the entertainment industry, enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 2003 and becoming an became an aerographer’s mate. Per Variety, Gregory reflected in a 2000 interview with People that it was a “relief” when ALF was canceled because he didn’t want to keep acting, but that he “didn’t regret” any part of the experience. “The only times it felt like work was when the lights were on, and it was real hot,” he said.

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