Little people are simply unusually short people, typically afflicted with dwarfism or proportionate dwarfism. While these can be disorders all on their own, dwarfism is typically a symptom of a larger medical condition, and there are hundreds of conditions that can result in someone having a dwarfed stature. While some of these conditions are genetically carried, some are not. Meaning, little people can have average height parents, and little people can give birth to average height children. Typically, anyone under the height of 4’10” can be considered a dwarf. Though the politically correct terms have changed often, it is the current preference to refer to their stature as ‘little people’ rather than ‘dwarves’ or ‘midgets.’
However, to assume that their lack of height limits little people is foolish and wrong. Though they be but little, they are fierce! Little people do not make victims of themselves. From a young age, little people wisely coordinate support groups and share resources; they know that they’re up against a world of bigger people, and they’re not afraid to take it on. Some little people, including the many on this list, have even gone the extra mile to prove that little people aren’t put at a wild disadvantage just because of their height. Some of the little people on this list are so tough, they could kill you without breaking a sweat. Others can simply dismantle you in a battle of wits and the rest could probably pay to have you killed, with the success they’ve reached in their careers. In any case, it’s probably best not to cross them. So here they are: the top fifteen bad-ass little people!
15. Joseph Calleja – Kid Rock’s Hype Man
Joseph Calleja, also known as Joe C., was the hype man and comedic sidekick for Kid Rock (back in the 1990s, that is, when Kid Rock was still popular). He was also a rapper and musician, but he’s mostly known for hanging around Kid Rock at all of his shows and for his comedic banter. He was born with coeliac (or celiacs) disease, which most commonly presents itself as a gluten intolerance in many people but can also cause abnormal/stunted growth as well as many other symptoms. He was 3’9″ fully grown and suffered from his disease his whole life, incurring many medical treatments and constantly taking medications. However, that didn’t stop him from going on tours with Kid Rock and living the life of a rap star for years. He died mid-tour in 2000 in his sleep from medical complications relating to his condition.
14. Jason Acuna – Weeman
Jason Acuna is better known as “Weeman’ from the Jackass movie and television series. Weeman, along with fellow jackasses Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, and Chris Pontius took on wild dares and crazy stunts, just because they wanted to and to prove that they could. Some of his craziest stunts included letting a bull charge at him (while wearing all red and holding a red yoga ball), trying to break a block of wood the size of his head with his head, and sitting on an electrified stool while his buddies threw things at his bare bottom. He’s been punched in the face by his friends, trampled by livestock, and otherwise abused in the name of fun. He’s certainly reckless, and maybe even stupid, but he’s done some pretty bad-ass stunts. He’s only four feet tall, but he certainly holds his own among his crew of jackasses.
13. Mascarita Sagrada – Mexican Luchador
Not a lot is known about Mascarita Sagrada, largely because he has only been unmasked once; he is an amazing Mexican luchador en mascarado (Spanish for masked wrestler). Just look at that picture! Mascarita Sagrada is clearly not one to be trifled with. The popularity of masked wrestlers in Mexican culture is phenomenal; there’s actually an entire category of masked Mexican wrestling just for little people, and Mascarita Sagrada dominates the category. He does not take off his mask ever- not for interviews, not for victory celebrations, never. He has said, while masked, that he is happily married with children, but no one knows anything about his family or about his personal life. For all his bad-ass fighting skills, he’s still a good person; he frequents philanthropic events, loving especially to spend time at children’s charities and visiting hospitals. He’s practically a mini-superhero, kicking ass for a living and saving time to help the kids.
12. Verne Troyer
Verne Troyer wanted to be in the movies since childhood. Did he not attempt his goal because of his height? Hell no! Not only did he try for the dream, but he achieved it! You’ve seen Verne Troyer in movies like the Austin Powers Franchise (remember Mini-Me?), Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (who do you think played the goblin?), and Bubble Boy (leader of the circus sideshow). Rather than shying away from his dreams because of his stature, he used his height to his advantage to get roles in some of the biggest movies of the last twenty years! He’s also so well liked and popular that he’s able to pull strings to get into movies of his choosing, including The Love Guru, Trailer Park Boys: Drunk, High, & Unemployed, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Needless to say, you don’t want to push Verne Troyer around; he’ll take you down Mini-Me style.
11. Aditya Dev – Bodybuilder
Aditya Dev was an Indian bodybuilder and entertainer who was the center of British pop culture for a few short (no pun intended… actually, yes it was) years. His dwarfism was caused by a syndrome called microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism (MOPD, type two) that also caused painful and uncomfortable symptoms such as muscle connectivity problems and aneurysms. At only 2’9″ and 20 pounds, and with all of his various medical problems, it was amazing what Aditya Dev was able to accomplish. He regularly bench pressed 1.5 pound weights, which is impressive given his overall weight. He was a pretty impressive dancer and was unofficially recognized as the world’s smallest bodybuilder. Unfortunately, people with MOPD rarely live past the age of 30 due to vascular problems. Aditya suffered from aneurysms, which were possibly aggravated by his obsession with bodybuilding, and eventually died in 2012 from an aneurysm rupture. He was memorialized and is fondly remembered as an inspiration to all who think fitness is out of reach.
10. Danny Woodburn – Actor
No matter your age or cinematic interest, you’ve seen some of Danny Woodburn’s work. Are you a fan of witty comedies? Then you probably recognize him from Seinfeld. Maybe you appreciate more brainless comedies; then you’d recognize him from Death to Smoochy or Employee of the Month. Maybe you’re into action movies, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (set to release later this year, he’ll play Splinter). Or maybe you’re more of a children’s movie person and you liked Mirror Mirror. No matter your interests, you’ve seen Danny at work. He gets more roles than most actors because he uses his height and unique appearance to his advantage- he knows he’s not likely to play the dashing Prince Charming, but he does a damn good job of playing funny, quirky, and manipulative characters. Danny’s made quite a name for himself, and he could take you down just by winking at you.
9. Deep Roy – Actor
Another actor, Deep Roy is most famous for his roles in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory (as all of the Oompa Loompas), the newest Star Trek franchise (as Scotty’s sidekick, Keenser), Big Fish (as Mr. Soggybottom), and The NeverEnding Story (as Teeny Weeny). He’s been acting since 1976, when his first role was in the television series The New Avengers. Deep Roy is a professional and serious actor, which is probably why famous directors like J.J. Abrams and Tim Burton have employed him on several of their projects. Deep Roy doesn’t even take his height into consideration when auditioning for roles; he just auditions and, if directors cast him in something concerning his height (such as Ewoks and Oompa Loompas), he’s happy to take the role. He’s got a strong career behind him and many years left ahead of him to continue blowing our minds on the big screen.
8. Katie Glass – Wrestler
Katie Glass is better known by her ring name, Diamond Lil. Diamond Lil was a wrestler back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and she was not to be taken lightly. She began her career by showing up on the doorstep of another female wrestler, The Fabulous Moolah, when she was only 17 and asked to be trained as a wrestler. The two developed a sort of mother-daughter relationship, wherein Moolah taught Katie how to fight. After years of fighting, both alone and alongside other famous female wrestlers like Ann Casey, Diamond Lil eventually retired because she had so few little opponents, and average height women were tentative about taking her on (either because they didn’t want to beat up a little person, or they didn’t want to get beaten by a little person). At only 3’8″ and 87 pounds, Katie Glass unrelentingly kicked ass.
7. Dylan Postl – Hornswoggle
At 4’5″ and weighing in around 142 pounds, Dylan Postl (also known by his ring name of Hornswoggle or his previous ring name Shortstack) is tougher than he looks. Though he’s adopted a mythical leprechaun’s garb and appearance for his wrestling personality, this is one wee fellow you don’t want to threaten. He was the 2007 Pro-Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year and the 2007 Cruiserweight Champion. He’s still wrestling, though he’s also throwing his talent into the film industry with appearances in movies like Leprechaun: Origins and Muppets Most Wanted. He’s been the center of some drama in the WWE world, including drama about Vince McMahon and illegitimate children, and he’s definitely taken his part in some fierce feuds (such as those with McMahon and Chavo Guerrero) but, most importantly, he’s a bad-ass fighter in the ring and will fearlessly take on any opponent.
6. Jason Owen – Mini “Arnie”
Jason Owen, #54 in the above picture, is the United Kingdom’s only dwarf bodybuilder. He’s only 4’5″ and 154 pounds, and can lift a shocking 364 pounds. He spends at least four hours a day in the gym, and works evenings as a doorman at popular bars and clubs in Surrey and Essex. In bodybuilding circles, he is known as “Mini Arnie,” fondly named after his inspiration, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He consumes 4,000 calories of protein rich foods everyday to keep up his muscle mass and works daily with his personal trainer to prepare for body building competitions. He finds that everyone in the industry and at the gym treats him well, regardless of his height. “Occasionally I do get grief for being a dwarf when I’m working,” he’s said, “I don’t let it get to me and often, by the end of the night, I have the mouthy person over my shoulder when I chuck them out.” You’d better be on your best behavior if you’re partying at one of Jason’s bars.
5. Leon Stap – Wrestler
Better known as Fuzzy Cupid, Leon Stap was one of the best known American midget professional wrestlers of his time. In fact, he was entered into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005, 29 years after his death. He trained under the famous Norman Brown until he debuted as a professional wrestler in 1952. He toured around the country with a number of other little person wrestlers, including Sky Low Low (see number three). He enjoyed playing the ‘bad guy’ of wrestling matches and often received cries of “boo” from the audience; he even dealt with an occasional bout of violence from overly-invested audience members. In fact, his worst wounds were obtained outside of the ring. Angry audience members fractured his vertebrae and stabbed him – but that didn’t kill him. Leon was an unstoppable force, both in and outside of the ring. He didn’t care that audiences hated him; he wasn’t going to stop wrestling. This four-foot tall, 85 pound, bad-ass little guy was tough as nails.
4. Andrew Stanaszek – Powerlifter
He’s not popular. He doesn’t have media outlets constantly interviewing him. He doesn’t need the extra attention. He’s a bodybuilder that takes his job very seriously. He’s an eight-time world champion in power lifting, two times silver winner, ten times bench-press champion, and holds multiple world records in barbell squats. He is the world’s strongest small person and he is not someone you want to mess with. He’s only about three feet tall, but look at that muscle definition! Even those short limbs are stacked and built; every inch of him is muscle! Andrew is the kind of person that could pummel you into the ground and barely break a sweat. Next time you consider calling Andrew ‘little,’ you may want to reconsider.
3. Sky Low Low- Marcel Gauthier
Sky Low Low, also known by his birth name of Marcel Gauthier, was a famous Canadian professional wrestler in the 1940s. He frequently toured in his wrestling career with the previously mentioned Fuzzy Cupid (see #five). He wrestled for a long time, continuing his tours into the late 1980s, but that’s not what makes him a bad-ass. During World War two, he stepped away from his wrestling career aspirations to fight. He worked in the tail of an aircraft bomber fixing rivets (mind you, this is when the bomber was in the air. He’d be fixing the plane as it was flying). He survived the war and went on to have an incredibly successful and long running career. He was inducted into the professional hall of fame, only four years after he died at the age of 70. He was affectionately called the “Little Atlas of the Wrestling World,” and he was a dominating force both in and outside of the ring.
2. Peter Dinklage – Actor
Peter Dinklage is much more than an actor. He’s a scholar, producer, voice actor, philanthropist, husband, and father. You’re likely to recognize Dinklage from his most popular film and television work, including HBO’s Game of Thrones (where he plays Tyrion Lannister), X-Men: Days of Future Past (in which he plays the villainous Dr. Bolivar Trask), and Death at a Funeral. But that’s not all he’s done! Did you know he plays the voice of “Ghost” in the popular video game, Destiny? Or that he was Tina Fey/Liz Lemon’s romantic interest in 30 Rock? Or that he was the first ever little person to play the role of Mikhail Rakitin in Ivan Turgenev’s centuries old Chekhovian play, A Month in the Country (in which he starred alongside Orange is The New Black’s Taylor Schilling)? Dinklage is one of the most respected and scholarly actors of our modern times.
His next goal in the entertainment industry? “What I really want is to play the romantic lead and get the girl.” And we want to see it happen, too! Dinklage has proven his acting talent time and time again, and he’s proven that little people can be cast as any character, regardless of height.
1. Mike Kuhns – Powerlifter
At only 18-years old, Mike Kuhns was giving all other little bodybuilders and average height bodybuilders inspiration. He was only 123 pounds and he was breaking records worldwide. At that age, his best lifts were 505 lbs. on the squat, 330 lbs. on the bench (a United States Powerlifting competition record breaker), and 370 lbs. on the deadlift. He started lifting weights and powerlifting when he was only twelve years old, under the training of his father, and he’s come a long way. So, it’s been twelve years since Mike Kuhns broke all these records; what’s he been up to lately? He went to university and got his degree, where he put powerlifting on the sidelines while he focused on his studies. Since then, he’s been getting himself back in competition shape. He’s been competing on and off in smaller contests, such as the American Open in King of Prussia and the Senior Nationals, where he continues to defend his title.