Troyer became star from humble beginnings

Thomas Hornall

Verne Troyer's death at the age of 49 followed an open struggle with alcoholism and depression.

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.

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.

The middle of three children, he was brought up in a strict household but said his parents left the religion when he was an infant.

Born with Achondroplasia dwarfism and reportedly one of the world's smallest men, he almost died from "cot death" as a baby, but said his small stature didn't restrict his ambitions.

He told the Guardian in 2015: "All my family is average-sized, apart from me. I didn't really think about my size until I got older, a few years before high school.

"It had never really fazed me that much."

He added that he once punched a classmate in the face for calling him a midget.

Troyer's first taste of the showbiz world came in 1994, performing as a stunt double in the film Baby's Day Out.

But it was in Mike Myers's Austin Powers spy comedy series that he found worldwide recognition as Mini-Me, a clone of villain Dr Evil, in the late 1990s.

His much-mimicked trademark pinky-to-the-lip pose in the films was instantly recognisable.

In 2004 he reportedly married model Genevieve Gallen - but the union lasted for only a matter of months.

The actor's credits also include Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone, and Men In Black.

Troyer, who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2009 and had stints on Celebrity Juice, was recently baptised while surrounded by family.

The statement on his death added: "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."

Rather than sending flowers, well-wishers were told to donate to his "two favourite charities; The Starkey Hearing Foundation and Best Buddies".

Australian readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.