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Herve Villechaize

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 problems.

Herve Villechaize
Herve Villechaize
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)

Parents
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.

Sources

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! 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 back rent.

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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