David Steinberg, the 3’1″ thesp best known for his role in Ron Howard’s “Willow” in 1988, died March 15 at age 45 in Valencia, Calif. No cause of death was given.
Born in Los Angeles, he was adopted by a couple who faced the same challenges he did as a short person.
Steinberg was brought up in Queens, New York, where he overcame childhood shyness about his size by winning over his classmates with wisecracks, developing a talent for comedy that served him well in his career.
He began acting in stage productions at Messiah College, Grantham, PA. before moving on to formal theater.
Steinberg earned good reviews for perfs at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Baltimore’s Center Stage and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He appeared in Baz Luhrmann’s production of “La Boheme” in New York and L.A. as well as the Grammy-nominated national tour of “The Wizard of Oz.”
He moved to L.A. in 2004
“I want to be noticed eventually because I’m a good actor,” he once said. “That’s a real goal of mine: to be respected as a person and an actor, not just because I’m short.”
In addition to his role in “Willow,” the thesp appeared in the films “Wigstock,” “Love and Sex” and “The Hebrew Hammer” among others.
His television credits include appearances on “The Equalizer,” “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” “Charmed,” “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” “Zoey 101” and a 2007 guest spot on “Ugly Betty,” where he acted opposite Rebecca Romijn.
Private memorial services in Gotham and Los Angeles are planned for May.