Nelson Aquino de la Rosa (June 1968 – October 22, 2006) was one of the shortest men of the twentieth and twenty first centuries and an actor from the Dominican Republic. Nelson measured 54 centimeters tall (about 1 3/4 feet).
De la Rosa starred in a 1987 feature horror film made in Italy called Ratman. During the 1990s Nelson continued his path to international success by becoming a staple guest at Venevision's television show Sabado Sensacional in Venezuela, and, later on, he would be invited as a guest to Don Francisco's show, Sábado Gigante, and to other Univision shows. His popularity took him to other Hispanic countries such as Argentina, where he featured several times in Susana Gimenez show, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain and others. He married, and had a son.
He had a minor role in the Hollywood production, The Island of Dr. Moreau, where he shared lines with Marlon Brando, among others. This role is said to be the inspiration for the Austin Powers movie character, "Mini-Me". Another very popular appearance was in the video for the song A mover el culo of the Argentine hip hop group Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas. De la Rosa had been reached by many American media operators and television shows, such as ESPN and others, for a feature about his life. So far, however, no plans to film a documentary about him have been completed.
De la Rosa befriended Boston Red Sox pitcher and fellow Dominican, Pedro Martinez , who began to take de la Rosa to playoff games held in Boston during the 2004 MLB playoffs.
He had recently been a main attraction in the "Hermanos Mazzini" and "Las Águilas Humanas" circuses, which marketed him as the Guinness World Record-holder for world's smallest man at 54 cm (21.25 inches), though this organization does not endorse this claim.
While no official diagnosis of the cause of de la Rosa's short stature is known, it has been speculated that he was born with the genetic syndrome MOPD II (microcephalic osteodysplastic primordial dwarfism type II). The primary symptoms of the syndrome include extreme proportional short stature, as well as distinct facial features similar to those exhibited by Nelson de la Rosa. A recent documentary by Granada Television highlighting the syndrome was aired on TLC several times in 2006. There are approximately 100 known cases of MOPD II in the world at this time, spread throughout various races and ethnic backgrounds.
He died at the age of 38, October 22, 2006 in Providence, RI, USA, allegedly from a heart failure. He is survived by his wife and nine-year-old child. His remains were transferred to the Dominican Republic, and buried in the Cristo Salvador cemetery. His grave is being watched over by Martinez for fear that the body may be stolen to be sold to a curio museum or to oddity collectors. Rumors circulated in late 2006 that his friend Pedro Martinez paid him for appearing in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Martinez, however, has maintained his innocence, citing a long-term friendship.