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Jerry Messing, the ‘Freaks & Geeks’ actor who became known as the ‘Fedora Guy’ meme, was reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19

Summary List PlacementJerry Messing, a 35-year-old "Freaks and Geeks" actor who became the face of the "Fedora Guy" meme, is reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19.  TMZ reported on Thursday that Messing's father, James, said he started having breathing issues and was taken to the hospital on Monday, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator. James said that both he and Messing's mother began to feel unwell around the same time as Messing, but that he had tested negative, while the mother awaited test results. The three live together in Tampa, Florida, James told TMZ. Messing first became known as...

Freaks & Geeks squad.

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Jerry Messing, a 35-year-old “Freaks and Geeks” actor who became the face of the “Fedora Guy” meme, is reportedly hospitalized with COVID-19. 

TMZ reported on Thursday that Messing’s father, James, said he started having breathing issues and was taken to the hospital on Monday, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator.

James said that both he and Messing’s mother began to feel unwell around the same time as Messing, but that he had tested negative, while the mother awaited test results. The three live together in Tampa, Florida, James told TMZ.

Messing first became known as a child actor in roles like Pugsley Addams in the 1998 movie “Addams Family Reunion” and Gordon Crisp in NBC’s cult-classic series “Freaks & Geeks,” which aired from 1999 to 2000. 

Paul Feig, the creator of “Freaks & Geeks,” reacted to the TMZ report in a Thursday tweet. 

“Sending all my love and positive energy to Jerry Messing, a wonderful talented guy,” he said. “He was such an important part of Freaks & Geeks in his role as the always upbeat Gordon Crisp. Here’s to a full recovery, my friend.”

In 2013, Messing went viral as the “Fedora Guy” or “*Tips Fedora*” meme, after a photo of him clasping the edge of a downturned fedora circulated on Reddit.

Messing had originally posted the image to his Facebook in May 2011, according to Know Your Meme, the meme-encyclopedia database. The picture later spread across internet forums like the fringe message board 4chan and made Messing a target of online trolls. 

According to a 2015 BuzzFeed interview with Messing, the meme was an extra picture that Messing took at the end of a photoshoot.

“It was taken by a photographer that does headshots at his studio,” Messing told BuzzFeed. “There was extra film left in the roll so I decided to do that one for the fun of it.”

According to KnowYourMeme, Messing’s fedora photo made him into a symbol for “neckbeards,” a negative stereotype and derogatory term lobbed by trolls against purported internet addicts who look unattractive and spend a lot of time on sites like 4chan and Reddit. 

“I’m certainly not thrilled with the communities the photo has come to represent,” Messing told BuzzFeed. “It isn’t something I can really do anything about – so I don’t let it bother me.”

Insider did not immediately receive responses to messages sent to Facebook accounts believed to belong to Messing and his mother. Insider also sent an email to an account associated with Messing’s father, James, but did not immediately hear back. 

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