Fred ''Rerun'' Berry dies at 52. The ''What's Happening!!'' comic had suffered diabetes and a stroke in recent years

By Gary Susman
October 23, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Fred Berry, the rotund comic actor best known for his role as high-schooler Rerun on the 1970s sitcom ”What’s Happening!!”, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles, the Associated Press reports. The 52-year-old, who had long suffered from diabetes and had endured a stroke in recent months, apparently succumbed to natural causes, a Los Angeles Coroner’s Department spokesman told AP.

Berry’s Rerun, in his trademark red beret and suspenders, was one of three fun-loving pals (along with Raj and Dwayne) getting into minor teenage scrapes on the 1976-79 sitcom. Berry reprised the role for one season on the update ”What’s Happening Now!” in 1985-86. He got hooked on pot and cocaine during his years on the original show (”There were dealers right there in the studio,” he said in a 1996 interview) and spent more than a million dollars, by his own account, on drugs, cars, houses, and an airplane. He was married six times to four women (two of them twice).

In recent years, he said, he had turned his life around and had become a Baptist minister. He continued to capitalize on his sitcom fame in the last year, lending his voice to HollywoodIsCalling (a phone service that, for $20 to $30, would deliver telephoned greetings from onetime TV fixtures like Berry or Lou Ferrigno), looking for love on E!’s ”Star Dates,” and appearing as himself in David Spade’s movie ”Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.”