Birthday: March 19, 1951
Died At Age: 52
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Fred Allen Berry
Born in: St. Louis, Missouri
Famous as: Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Carol Ann Rossm. (m. 1984 –1991), Darlene Bittenm. (m. 1994 –1999), Essie Berrym. (m. 1999 –2003), Franchesska Berry (m. 1978 –1980)
children: DeShannon Berry, Fred Berry Jr., Portia Berry Allen
Died on: October 21, 2003
place of death: Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: Missouri
Fred Allen Berry was an actor and street dancer from America. He accumulated fame for playing Fred "Rerun" Stubbs in the 1970s television show ‘What's Happening!!’ A native of Missouri, Berry was a member of the Los Angeles-based dance troupe, The Lockers. In 1972, he made his screen debut in the crime drama film ‘Hammer’. Berry led a very turbulent life, battling food, drugs, alcohol, and sex addictions. At one point, he became so obese that his weight put his life in danger. He was also diagnosed with diabetes. Eventually, he rediscovered religion, lost over 100 pounds, and quit taking drugs. In October 2003, he passed away. He was 52 years old at the time.
Fred Berry was part of the Los Angeles-based dance troupe The Lockers prior to landing the role of Fred "Rerun" Stubbs in ‘What's Happening!!’ The group made two appearances on NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’, once in 1975 and once in 1976. They were previously featured on the 1973 documentary ‘Wattstax’.
Berry was also featured in the dance music show ‘Soul Train’ and was part of the program's signature line dance segment, in which he got the chance to perform the memorable early 1970s dance step "the slo-mo".
He made his screen debut as an uncredited dancer in the 1972 crime drama ‘Hammer’. In 1976, he began portraying Fred "Rerun" Stubbs in ABC’s sitcom ‘What's Happening!!’ Initially, the creators of the show were looking for a skinny white teenager to play Rerun, but they eventually hired Berry to portray the character. Rerun was rotund and dim-witted and yet cool and funny. He could be the centre of attention in any room with his dancing skills. According to Berry, the nickname is a reference to the fact that the character was compelled to retake all the classes he could not pass during the school year. Rerun was pivotal in popularising phrases like “Hey, Hey, Hey!" and "Hey Raj".
‘What's Happening!!’ aired for three seasons. The main plot of the show revolved around three friends, Rerun, Raj and Dwayne. As they grow up in Los Angeles, they learn how to deal with women and life. The show was Berry’s first acting gig and it helped him become a millionaire by the time he turned 29. However, he squandered away all his fortune because of depression, a highly expensive lifestyle, and drug and alcohol abuse. He was a heavy user of marijuana and cocaine and had confessed that he had spent over $1 million on drugs, cars, homes, and his own plane.
Following the conclusion of ‘What's Happening!!’, Berry could not land other acting jobs. He was completely ruined financially and had to resort to earning money by charging to appear at shopping malls. His acting career experienced a brief resurgence when the sequel of ‘What's Happening!!’, ‘What's Happening Now!!’ began airing in 1985. The show, like its predecessor, lasted three seasons before its conclusion in 1988.
Berry also had various roles in films like ‘Vice Squad’ (1982), ‘A Stroke of Genius’ (1984), and ‘In the Hood’ (1998). He guest-starred in various TV shows as well, including ‘Alice’ and ‘Scrubs.’ His last screen appearance was in the 2003 comedy ‘Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star’.
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Family & Personal Life
Fred Berry was born on March 19, 1951, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, and grew up in the inner-city housing estate. Since he was a child, he harboured aspirations of becoming a successful dancer and actor someday.
He exchanged wedding vows five times with four different women. He married his first wife, actress Franchesska Berry, twice. It was on January 11, 1976, that they tied the knot for the first time. However, the marriage ended within a year. They remarried on October 15, 1978, only to divorce once more on September 25, 1980.
His second wife was Carol Ann Ross, whom he married on August 1, 1984. That marriage lasted for about seven years. They parted ways in 1991. Berry married his third wife, Darlene Bitten, in October 1994 and divorced her in 1999. His fourth and final wife was a woman named Essie. Married in 1999, they were together until his death in 2003. Berry had three children, daughter Portia and sons Fred Berry Jr. and DeShannon.
In 1990, he was diagnosed with diabetes. At the time, he was severely overweight. His doctors informed him that he had to lose weight or he would not live long. He subsequently started maintaining a strict regimen and shed about 108 pounds and 18 inches off his waist. After the end of ‘What's Happening Now!!’, Berry quit acting and became religious. He eventually made a return to acting with ‘In the Hood’.
In October 2003, Berry’s health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke. He passed away on October 21, 2003, at his Los Angeles home, reportedly of natural causes. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.