HE was a well-known figure in Hollywood - yet few in his native city of Southampton knew of his fame.

John Edward Allen, a dwarf just 3ft 10in tall, said little to his family and friends back in Hampshire about his acting achievements in the USA.

But, following his death this month in his Southampton home at the age of 49, his role in the world of movies has only just begun to be appreciated.

John came back to live locally six years ago after leaving for North America in 1973, where he carved out a great career in the film industry.

After his death, relatives tidied his flat at Talbot Close, near the centre of Southampton, and found photos of him with former US president Jimmy Carter, a glittering list of films he had appeared in and countless pictures autographed by some of the most glamorous women in the movie industry.

"I had always been proud of him. But it was not until I went down and cleared out his flat that I realised just how much he had achieved," said his brother Peter, who lives at North Baddesley.

Peter's wife Marie recalled the very first day when John went to Aldermoor School, Southampton. "We were told that a very special little boy was starting and we sat round him on the grass in a circle," she recalled.

From Aldermoor, John went to the city's Redbridge school, where he was upset at not being allowed to play football because staff feared he would be hurt.

Then he gained a place at the Lord Mayor Treloar College at Alton, where he gained a tailoring qualification.

John worked for a tailor in the London Road area of Southampton, but he was keeping an eye out for work on the stage and he made a handful of theatre appearances in London, as a witch in Macbeth, Oscar in the Odd Couple, Cousin Lymon in Sad Caf and the Artful Dodger in Oliver.

His movie work took off, however, when he went to visit his sister in North America with his mother for a holiday.

First, he began picking up parts in theatre off New York's Broadway - and then came one film after another.

Blade Runner with Harrison Ford, Paradise Alley with Sylvester Stallone and a host of others, including the Wizard of Oz, were found on lists uncovered by his brother.

His credits also included the Eyes of Laura Mars, Side Show, Under the Rainbow, Buck Rogers, Protector, Tales from the Darkside, Offbeat, Swamp Thing, Super Boy and Snow White in the Black Forest.

He also travelled across the states for a range of shows, including Rumpelstiltskin and appeared in two big Broadway shows, a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime and, for seven successive years, a Magnificent Christmas Spectacular.

And it didn't end there. When John came back to England he appeared in a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs pantomime at Bristol and another Snow White at Eastbourne where Ted Rogers and Karen Worth topped the bill.

The signatures on the photographs in his album show just how popular the little man from Southampton was with the stars.

But pride of place goes to the White House party where John was one of the seven dwarfs who put on a special show for President Carter.

John, who was also a concert sidekick to showbiz rock star Ozzy Osborne, once said: "My father wanted each of us to learn a trade.

"But I've had the desire to act ever since I mimicked Gary Cooper receiving his Oscar for High Noon.''

The little man had stars in his eyes ever since.

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