Stephen Furst is well known for playing the fat kid, usually the butt of jokes, and on occasion transcending the stereotype. But his weight brought with it the consequence of type 2 diabetes, a condition that he struggled with all of his life and which eventually killed him at the all too young age of 63. He will be remembered for two fairly similar but also distinctive roles.

Kent 'Flounder' Dorfman of ‘Animal House’

1978’s “Animal House” was a raucous, vulgar celebration of college drunkenness and debauchery. Furst played Kent Dorfman, also known by his fraternity brother name, “Flounder.” His character was the butt of jokes and the recipient of savage abuse by almost everyone, from both the fascists of Omega House and even his own fraternity, party animal brothers at Delta House.

But Kent was able to take vengeance during the crucial homecoming parade sequence during which he weaponized “10,000 marbles” and then avoided getting shot only by a happy accident (or was it karma?) The character was sweet natured and did not deserve what was done to him, all of course in good fun.

Vir Cotta of ‘Babylon 5’

Babylon 5” was a groundbreaking TV series in many respects, especially in its depiction of alien cultures and politics on board a huge space station. Furst’s character, Vir Cotta, started the series as the flunky and recipient of abuse (“You moon-faced assassin of joy!”) of Ambassador Londo Mollari of the Centauri Empire. As the series progressed, Vir became an influential player in the interstellar game of politics.

The crucial turning point of his character’s development was when a prophecy was made that started that his boss, Londo, would be Emperor of Centauri, not an unforeseen event, but then afterward Vir would follow in his stead, something so incredible that both men laughed at the absurdity of it.

Another great turning point scene occurred when the mad, bad, and dangerous to know Emperor Cartagia brought the Centauri Empire to the brink of ruin.

It was the hand of Vir that struck Cartagia down, injecting him with poison. Even though Vir is innocent and more than a little naïve, traits not suited for cutthroat politics in any culture, he rises to become Emperor, fulfilling the prophecy, and saving what is left of his nation from the ravages inflicted by the ambitions of seemingly greater men.

The lesson is that even the lowest and most despised can rise to dizzying heights under the right circumstances and given strengths not appreciated by those around them.

Type 2 diabetes

Stephen Furst struggled with type 2 diabetes, brought on by his weight problems, all of his life. The condition eventually took him from us all too soon. Hail and farewell, Mr. Furst. You were a bringer of joy and not an assassin of it.