Michael Dunn was born Gary Neil Miller in Oklahoma. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. Fred Miller. They moved to Detroit, Michigan, in 1938. Dunn was 5 years old when he knew he’d be a dwarf but was determined not to let it stop him or make him dependent. He graduated from Detroit’s Redford High School in 1951, where he had been active in many school activities, including the student council, and was captain of the cheer-leading team. At 18 he enrolled as a student at the University of Michigan, but a leg injury incurred when he was accidentally knocked down a flight of stairs forced him to leave. Later he transferred to the University of Miami, where he acted, was a cheer leader and editor of the college newspaper, and he received his degree in 1956. He’d supported himself during school by singing at local bars, and knew by graduation that he wanted to be an actor. “Frankly”, he told a reporter, “I knew there wouldn’t be too much competition for roles. There are a great many professional midgets, but there aren’t too many dwarfs who can act”. Waiting for his big break, he found employment as a sports reporter, a hotel detective and a missionary. When he hit New York he finally got some acting parts in off-Broadway plays–and when he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1963 (for his role in Edward Albee’s “Ballad of A Sad Cafe”–his luck changed for the better. He even landed an Oscar nomination for his role as narrator in Ship of Fools (1965). Still, Dunn was frustrated by the lack of variety in the parts he was offered. While filming The Abdication (1974) on location in England in 1973, the 3’11” actor died. He was 38.
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