Actor de la Rosa, Pedro's tiny good luck charm, dies

SANTO DOMINGO -- Nelson de la Rosa, the world's shortest actor and a ubiquitous good-luck charm for the Boston Red Sox during their victorious 2004 World Series run, died at a New York hospital on Sunday, his agent said.

De la Rosa, who was about 2-foot-4, died of unknown causes, producer Andres Duran told The Associated Press. He was 38.

He fell ill shortly after arriving in Miami on Friday from Chile, where the Dominican national had been working in a circus. On Saturday he flew to New York, where two of his brothers live, Duran said.

Born and raised in a small village near San Miguel, in Santo Domingo province, the charismatic de la Rosa became internationally known when he appeared alongside Marlon Brando in the 1996 film "The Island of Dr. Moreau."

The Internet Movie Database called him the world's shortest actor, and he was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest known adult in 1989.

After the baseball fan was introduced to then-Boston ace Pedro Martinez by a mutual friend, the two Dominicans became friends. De la Rosa became a regular presence in the team's clubhouse in the playoffs of the 2004 season, in which the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years.

De la Rosa's body will be sent back to the Dominican Republic after an autopsy and then could be put on display in a museum, his agent said.

De la Rosa is survived by his wife, a 9-year-old son, his mother and five siblings.