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12/28/04

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Pac Man Dead at 24


Tarzana, Calif. (DPI) - Otto Burger, better known to the world as video game pioneer Pac Man, was found dead in his lavish California condominium last Thursday by his landlord. An autopsy report revealed the cause of death to be extreme starvation brought on by anorexia nervosa.

His personal physician, Dr. Mario Tortini, said he had been diagnosed with anorexia six months ago because of a lifetime of eating for a living. "It was too much for him," Dr. Tortini said. "He said he would wake up every morning and look in the mirror and hate the giant fat head that was looking back at him."

Medical records show Man had also struggled with drug addiction following the wild success of his first self-titled game in the early '80s with "power pills," which doctors said are a form of steroids commonly used to give patients with weaker immune systems short bouts of strength.

In order to overcome his addiction, he threw himself into his work, according to Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. "He quit cold turkey," Bushnell said. "He replaced his need to work with his need for drugs. I can't imagine how hard it was for him to do that, but he did it."

It took him another four years and five titles later to overcome his addiction, but his constant eating took a toll on his body and his mental well-being, his son Otto Burger Jr., AKA Jr. Pac Man, said.

"He put on a lot of weight during that time, he certainly didn't look like the same person," Burger said. "His job required it, but he never blamed the industry to making him addicted. I feel a little differently about that, but he loved his work so much that it never occurred to him what kind of a toll it was having on his physical well-being."

Man will be buried in a private ceremony on Monday with only family and friends in attendees. Pallbearers include friends and co-workers Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde.

(Reported by Danny Gallagher, Graphic by Chris White)





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