Stevie Lee AKA Puppet the Psycho Dwarf has died at the age of 54. Lee’s family confirmed his passing in a message on a GoFundMe page on September 9. The page has been set up to help Lee’s family to pay for his funeral. According to the page, Lee’s brother, Jim, has been left to organize his brother’s memorial alone. One section of the page read, “Puppet has put smiles across the world with his hardcore attitude and lifestyle. He is a legend in the art of Midget Wrestling. He needs our help to give him one last curtain call.”
The overall goal of the page is $5,000. The page did not reveal Lee’s cause of death but did say that it was “unexpected.” Lee’s full name was Stevie Lee Richardson but his stage name was Stevie Lee.
In a statement on Twitter, Total Nonstop Action wrestling said, “It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Stevie Lee, better known as “Puppet The Psycho Dwarf” in the early days of TNA. We send our deepest condolences to his friends and family.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mainstream Audiences Might Recognize Lee From His Barfight Scene in Jackass 3D With Wee Man
Lee is perhaps best known to mainstream audiences for his role in Jackass 3D in which he competed in a staged bar fight with skateboarder and stuntman Jason Acuna aka Wee Man.
During his career, Lee appeared in two seasons of the Spike TV show Half Pint Brawlers as well as multiple episodes of Tales from the Crypt and in an episode of American Horror Story. Lee also appeared in the 1992 Babe Ruth biopic The Babe alongside John Goodman and the 1994 cult-hit Death Match.
2. Lee Had Been Performing Stand-up Comedy During Quarantine & Was Next Due to Perform on September 13
A casting profile says that Lee performed in tours with Motley Crue, Kid Rock and Sevendust. That profile says that Lee was trained in the martial art of Tai Chi, he could play the trumpet, was skilled in stage combat and was a juggler.
According to his Facebook page, Lee was from New Orleans and was living in Rockford, Illinois. Lee said on his profile that he attended Columbia College Chicago. According to posts on that page, Lee had been performing stand-up comedy during the coronavirus quarantine. One post says that Lee was next due to perform September 10 and 13.
3. Lee Was the Only Person in His Family Who Was Born With Dwarfism
Lee wrote in a 2012 blog post that he was married with two children, including a newborn daughter. Lee said that he was an achondroplasia dwarf who stood at 4-foot-4. Lee said that he was the only person in his family who was born with dwarfism. He credited his parents with providing the support he needed to pursue a career in entertainment.
4. Lee Said He Preferred the Word ‘Midget’ to the Phrase ‘Little Person’
In May 2010, Lee told The New York Times, “I would rather be called a midget than a little person because I consider myself a very large individual.” The article noted that Lee preferred to be called “Puppet.” Lee added, “Nobody is going to come out to see little people wrestling. They don’t know what it is. ‘Little people’ could be a short guy. Midget wrestling, you know exactly what the product is, and what you’re coming to see.”
A spokesman for the advocacy group Little People of America, Gary Arnold, told the Times that the word “midget” was “associated with the sideshow, the freak show,” and led to people becoming “objectified” and was “dehumanizing.” Lee said, “Everybody needs to loosen up. What’s the difference? It’s a word.” Lee said in a separate interview with Delaware State News that the word “midget” was a “marketing tool.” In the same interview, “America’s a great place. If you’ve got something, create something out of it. I love to be able to develop, build and create.”
5. Lee Once Said the Actor He Would Most Like to Emulate Was Peter Dinklage
Lee said in his interview with Delaware State News that he had “mad respect” for Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage. Lee said that Dinklage “broke the mold” and that “To be an accomplished actor like him would be my dream.”