Henry Joseph Nasiff Jr, or Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf as he’s known by his fans, a beloved and popular recurring guest on the radio program The Howard Stern Show. And the televised studio show that accompanied it that aired on the E! Channel.
He’s a part of the show’s Wack Pack – the name given to a handful of personalities that consistently featured throughout the history of the popular radio show. Hank was a staple of the Howard Stern Show for the better part of 5 years.
His career got its start back in August of 1996 when he essentially barged his way into Stern’s studio at radio station K-Rock WXRK in New York City. He had a lot of guts and with a little extra help from some good old-fashioned ‘liquid courage’. He managed to make himself a star – albeit an unlikely one.
Measuring it in at 4 feet 1 inch tall and weighing just 95 lbs. Hank’s huge personality overshadowed his relatively small build. But what he lacked in size he made up for that by being belligerent, angry, and sensational. But deep down below that gruff, broody, public persona, Hank had a good soul. He made a tremendous impact on virtually everyone he came across. So let’s honor this angry, short-statured legend by taking a look at his life story and accomplishments. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the Hank the Drunken Dwarf’s Tragic Death and why it went unnoticed.
Hank’s Early Life
Henry Nasiff Jr. was born on April 20, 1962, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Just a week after he born he received the diagnosis of achondroplasia dwarfism. His mom, Claudette, used to tell him when he was a child that despite his disability he could do anything that he set his mind to so Hank decided that he wanted to learn how to ride a bike and play little league baseball. He didn’t care what the other kids said about him. He just wanted to do what made him happy.
At 12, Hank underwent an operation to straighten out his legs. While his doctors said that would probably eventually need more surgery. Hank decided that he didn’t want to have any further procedures done.
Before he found a level of fame on The Howard Stern Show. Hank had a bit part in a production of Finnegans Wake at a Boston Dinner Theater. Hank would pop out of a beer keg at the end of each performance. While he only had four lines, he paid $50 for each performance. The job lasted for two years
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Meeting Howard Stern For The First Time
Hank first met Howard on August 19, 1996, after he a friend from the Boston dinner theater drove to New York City for a night out on the town. After an evening of heavy drinking, Hank decided to camp out in front of K-Rock studios in Manhattan at 5:30 in the morning. He’s determined to get onto the air and had no doubt in his mind that he would successful.
Gary Dell’Abate, Stern’s producer the first one to encounter Hank who clearly drunk at the time. Hank aggressively demanded that he permitted to meet Stern.
Gary went inside and told Howard that he had just come across a drunken Dwarf wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a lei with a vodka bottle in one hand.
Howard told Gary to bring him in immediately.
Hank’s first appearance included a reading of a series of one-sentence insults directed towards various groups of people and ethnicities that he had written on a piece of paper the evening before.
Hank insisted from his first on-air conversation with Howard that he called a dwarf and not a midget and he would quickly correct anyone who slipped up. He viewed it as an issue of respect.
Hank’s character name came pretty much spontaneously when Howard said something to the effect of always having wanted to have an angry, drunken dwarf on his program.
For the five years that he was a recurring guest on the show, Hank was a fan-favorite character. He was bold and never coward away from expressing himself. Most of the time, he would come across as totally unguarded.
And as far as being belligerent, he only ever really got that way when he really drunk or when people would heckle him.
Behind his clearly exaggerated public persona, Hank had what some called an underlying good nature and most fans seemed to be aware of that side of him.
During the first few years that he was a guest on Howard’s show. He would take the bus from Boston to New York every month as soon as he got his disability check.
Hank denied being paid for his appearances on the show but he did say that sometimes they would throw him a little something under the table. He said that he didn’t have much need for money anyways because wherever he went people would basically fight to buy him a drink.
The Most Beautiful Person In The World
Hank received an incredible amount of media attention in 1998 when he won a People magazine online poll that asked the public to vote for the ‘most beautiful person in the world’. This is a part of a promotion that was leading up to the magazine’s ’50 Most Beautiful People’ issue.
The poll allowed the public to write in a candidate if they wanted to. And also they definitely didn’t anticipate Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf to receive 230,169 votes. In fact, he beat out quite a few celebrities by a lot. Second place was for another write-in candidate, professional wrestler Ric Flair with 17,145 votes. Third place went to Leonardo DiCaprio with just 14,471 votes.
The film Titanic had just released a few months before the poll,. So the editors of the magazine naturally assumed that the film’s leading star, Dicaprio, would take in the most votes.
The suggestion to write-in votes for Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf started on a Howard Stern fan webpage before the idea further popularized on various message boards. Eventually, even Howard himself mentioned on the air on a couple of occasions.
Voting lasted a week and at its peak. The votes for Hank were coming in at a mind-blowing rate of fifty per minute.
When the poll complete, the executive editor of People not exactly thrilled about the outcome. In fact, he called it ‘stupid’.
When People’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue finally released, DiCaprio appeared on the cover. The magazine did, however, photograph Hank and mentioned him on their website alongside the other runner-ups.
Voting for Hank allowed people to shatter People’s expectations whiles still playing by their own rules. The public’s choice to vote for Hank taken by some to veiled criticism on how media outlets assume that they can easily manipulate the masses into liking whatever it is that is marketed towards them.
A vote for Hank was essentially a protest vote against an industry that thinks that they have the power to tell us what to eat, what movies to watch, what music to listen to. And which political candidate to vote for or what kind of people are attractive enough to date.
Others saw the votes for Hank as some kind of recognition of his inner beauty. But Hank never felt like the word ‘beautiful’ applied to himself.
Hanks Alcoholism, Death, And Aftermath
While Hank’s alcoholism was all a part of his Schick, it was also slowly killing him.
Hank would from time to time try and cut back on his drinking, but when he would reduce his intake, he would oftentimes experience seizures.
In a documentary detailing Hank’s life, his mother revealed that his liver severely damaged by his alcohol consumption and that she didn’t know how long he had to live.
Hank had been to rehab on several occasions and mandated by the court to enter into detox but nothing seemed to stick. Hank even kicked out of an AA meeting once for cracking open a bottle of MD 20/20 moments after the meeting started.
Howard Stern also tried to get hank help. Several of his staffers even tried to get him into some kind of program but he always refused.
Hank’s first taste of alcohol given to him by his grandfather who offered him a sip of his blackberry brandy when he was about 7 or 8 years old.
He experienced a great deal of trauma when he was a child. On his first appearance on the popular radio show, he explained that he had sexually abused by someone when he 7. In a later appearance, he related that this assault came in the form of rape.
After the incident, Hank left with a great deal of anger. Once he was in his teenage years, he started using alcohol to self-medicate. As time went on he relied more and more on its numbing effects. By the time of 14, he admitted to already having built up quite a tolerance.
Hank passed away sometime in the afternoon of September 4, 2001. He died in his sleep at the home he shared with his parents in Massachusetts. He was 39 years old.
According to his death certificate, his death caused by a combination of factors including a seizure disorder, his alcoholism, and chondrodystrophy.
Howard Stern devoted the majority of his show the following day to honoring Hank’s memory. Claudette, Hank’s mom, called in on September 10, 2001. To thank everyone who attended his funeral and sent in letters and emails of condolences. She also let Hank’s fans know that he was buried with a can of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in his casket.
Unfortunately, the discussion of Hank’s death in the media was overshadowed by the events of 9/11. On the morning of September 11, 2001, Stern was discussing with an E! Channel executive about the prospect of producing an E! True Hollywood Story about him when the first plane crashed into the world trade center at 8:46 am.
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