Herve Villechaize was an actor who portrayed
Tattoo on TV's Fantasy Island (1978-83). His
most memorable film role was that of henchman
Nick Nack in the James Bond picture The Man with
the Golden Gun.
He committed suicide in 1993, after
years of declining health and financial
Biographical fast facts
Full or original name at birth: Herve Jean-Pierre Villechaize
Date and place of birth: April 23, 1943, Paris, France
Date, time, place and cause of death: September 4, 1993,
at 3:40 a.m., Medical Center of North Hollywood, North Hollywood,
California, U.S.A. (Suicide - Self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest) *
Wives: Anne Sadowski and Camille Hagen (Both marriages ended in divorce)
Father: Andre Villechaize
Mother: Eveline (or Evelyn) Recchionni
Remains: He was cremated, and his ashes
were scattered at sea off Point Fermin, San Pedro, California, U.S.A.
Error corrections or clarifications
* His death certificate confirms his death took
place at 3:40 a.m., not "3:40 p.m." as a couple of
sources mistakenly claim. His girlfriend also confirms
that she was asleep when the gunshot awoke her and that
it was the middle of the night when he shot himself.
The 1994 Grolier Encyclopedia Annual erroneously
listed his place of death as "Los Angeles," instead of
North Hollywood, where he actually died.
One final error correction: Some sources erroneously
report the Fantasy Island TV series ran
from "1976 to 1983." In point of fact, the show
aired in the United States from 1978 to 1983.
Herve Villechaize was originally an artist
who studied at the Beaux-Art School in Paris,
had a successful exhibition of his own
paintings and found additional work as a
photographer. At age 21, he left his native
France and moved to New York where he continued
to paint, but also began acting on stage.
Broadway roles and even a few appearances
in operas followed. His feature film credits
include, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight (1971),
The Last Stop (1972), Seizure (1974),
Crazy Joe (1974), The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974) and Airplane II: The Sequel (1982).
Villechaize also guest-starred on such television
series as The Carol Burnett Show, Circus of the
Stars, The Ben Stiller Show, The Larry Sanders
Show, Diff'rent Strokes, The Fall Guy,
Taxi, and Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre.
Herve had a reputation for being "difficult"
on the set, and female co-stars frequently
reported receiving repeated propositions
from the amorous star.
Standing just 3-foot-11, Herve Villechaize was
best known for his line delivered during the
opening of each episode of Fantasy Island, when
he pointed skyward to the aircraft bringing guests
seeking fulfillment of their fantasies and shouted,
"The plane! The plane!" or more precisely, "Da plane!
He had difficulty finding work following his
acrimonious departure from the hit series.
Depending on which version of the story you
believe, he either quit the show over a salary
dispute, or was fired by the producers over the
issue. Within just five years of his exit from
the show, he was sued by his landlord for unpaid
rent. The suit was resolved when he agreed to
move out in exchange for not having to pay the
His legal and financial difficulties were dwarfed
by his worsening medical issues. Despondent after
years of increasingly serious medical problems,
Herve shot himself at his home at 11537 West
Killion Street, in North Hollywood, California,
at about 3 a.m., September 4th, 1993.
He was rushed to Medical Center of North Hollywood,
where he was pronounced dead at 3:40 a.m., the
result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the
chest. His suicide note reports that he planned
to carry out his suicide outside to make "less mess."
Upon his death, his Fantasy Island co-star,
Ricardo Montalban, who played Mr. Rourke, issued
a statement: "I considered his contribution to
Fantasy Island as one of the keys to the tremendous
success that the show enjoyed."
Twice divorced, at the time of his suicide,
Villechaize was living with his girlfriend of
several years, Kathy Self.
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