The man who played the baby at the center of Ghostbusters II has tragically died at the age of 28. TMZ reports that Henry “Hank” Deutschendorf committed suicide after a long battle with a schizoaffective disorder, roughly speaking a combination of a bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Hank played the role of Oscar Ghostbusters II along with his brother, Will, in 1989. It was Will who wrote on Facebook that his brother had passed away on June 14.
Will Deutschendorf’s tribute finishes with the words, “I will remember him as my best friend, my partner, my brother, and the bravest man I have ever known.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hank & William Are John Denver’s Nephews
Hank was named after his uncle, John Denver, whose real name was Henry Deutschendorf. In a touching tribute, Hank’s brother Will wrote:
Many people do not know much about Hank. Some knew him as Baby Oscar in Ghostbusters 2 or John Denver’s nephew. Others knew him as a brother, son, martial artist, teacher, uncle, or friend.
Will told a magazine in 2008 that their father was the president of John Denver’s Windstar Foundation. The foundation shuddered suddenly in 2012. Ron Deutscehndorf, the boys father, told the New York Times, “I felt blindsided, stabbed in the back. It was like a piece of my heart has been sold off.”
2. He Appeared in a 2017 Documentary About Ghostbusters
Recently, Hank had appeared in a 2017 documentary, Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters. The movie was crowd funded. According to their Facebook page, the producers interviewed over 70 people and made it over the course of 8 years in an attempt to capture the cultural impact of the movie.
While in a July 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, director Ivan Reitman said that he believed that Oscar was the lovechild of Bill Murray and Sigourney Weaver. In the mid-term between the first and second movies, Weaver’s character had married and a child with someone else, who had since left her. While Reitman added that if he ever followed through with a Ghostbusters III, his idea was to have baby Oscar now leading the group.
3. Hank & William Took Over the West Coast Martial Arts Academy in 2007
When the brothers were just 23, they took over the West Coast Martial Arts Academy in the San Diego area. The brothers were featured in a March 2008 feature by 92127 magazine. That piece was written five months before Hank was diagnosed with his mental conditions. Will said in his tribute:
Since his diagnosis, he tried everything to alleviate the symptoms. In his daily life, he used supplements, meditation, strict dietary plans, and exercise regiments. His daily disciplines weren’t enough to allow him to live the life he wanted to live.
4. His Facebook Lists Him as Being in a Relationship
According to Hank’s Facebook page, he was in a relationship. His Facebook profile photo shows him with a girl named Keemia Ranjbaran. Keemia was a student at the West Coast Martial Arts Academy. She said in a 2016 review, “I’ve never considered myself to be athletic, but the instructors at WCMAA helped me push past my reservations and find confidence I had never had. Lessons are challenging enough to be rewarding – they keep you coming back for more. Training at WCMAA is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”
5. After Ghostbusters II, Neither Brother Went Back to Show Business
Like so many other child stars, the Deutschendorf brothers never appeared again on screen after Ghostbusters II in 1989. Though Hank said in 2008, “We would love to get into acting if ever we had an opportunity in between being full-time students and business owners.”
Will explained in his tribute to his brother that Hank suffered from a schizoaffective disorder. Will says Hank, “hallucinations, delusions, depression, and mania. It is a very severe mental illness that usually requires a lifetime of treatment. It is not well studied, so the treatment is largely an estimation based on schizophrenia and bipolar treatments.”