American actor and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant Verne Troyer - known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers films - has died at the age of 49.
The diminutive US actor and comedian, best known for playing Mini-Me in the Austin Powers spoof spy films, had been admitted to hospital in Los Angeles earlier this month.
Last month Verne visited Preston on Saturday, March 17, for a meet-and-greet event at Switch nightclub in Market Street as part of the club's St Patrick's Day celebrations. He was also in Poulton on the day as part of his British tour.
In 2015, the 49-year-old also visited Blackpool Comic-Con as a special guest.
Austin Powers actor Mike Myers has lead tributes to his co-star.
Myers said: "Verne was the consummate professional and a beacon of positivity for those of us who had the honour of working with him.
"It is a sad day, but I hope he is in a better place. He will be greatly missed."
A statement on Troyer's official Facebook page read:
"It is with great sadness and incredibly heavy hearts to write that Verne passed away today.
"Verne was an extremely caring individual. He wanted to make everyone smile, be happy, and laugh. Anybody in need, he would help to any extent possible.
"He inspired people around the world with his drive, determination, and attitude. On film and television sets, commercial shoots, at comic-con's and personal appearances, to his own YouTube videos, he was there to show everyone what he was capable of doing.
"Even though his stature was small and his parents often wondered if he'd be able to reach up and open doors on his own in his life, he went on to open more doors for himself and others than anyone could have imagined. He also touched more people's hearts than he will ever know.
"Verne was also a fighter when it came to his own battles. Over the years he's struggled and won, struggled and won, struggled and fought some more, but unfortunately this time was too much.
"During this recent time of adversity he was baptised while surrounded by his family. The family appreciates that they have this time to grieve privately.
"Depression and Suicide are very serious issues. You never know what kind of battle someone is going through inside. Be kind to one another. And always know, it's never too late to reach out to someone for help.
"In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in Verne's name to either of his two favourite charities; The Starkey Hearing Foundation and Best Buddies."
Troyer was born in Michigan on January 1, 1969, to poor Amish factory workers, growing up on a farm in the small town of Centreville.