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Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize (French: [ɛʁve vilʃɛz]; April 23, 1943 – September 4, 1993) was a French actor and painter. He is best known for his roles as the evil henchman Nick Nack in the 1974 James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, and as Mr. Roarke’s assistant, Tattoo, on the American television series Fantasy Island that he played from 1977 to 1983. On Fantasy Island, his shout of “De plane! De plane!” became one of the show’s signature phrases. He died by suicide in 1993.

Villechaize was born in Nazi-occupied Paris on April 23, 1943, to Evelyn, an Anglo-Italian socialite who was an ambulance driver during World War II and André Villechaize, a surgeon in Toulon. Villechaize also had German ancestry. The youngest of four sons, Villechaize was born with dwarfism, likely due to an endocrine disorder, which his surgeon father tried unsuccessfully to cure in several institutions. In later years, he insisted on being called a “midget” rather than a “dwarf“, which annoyed his acting contemporary with a similar condition, Billy Barty, who was an activist who found that term derogatory. Villechaize was bullied at school for his condition and found solace in painting. In 1959, at age 16, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts to study art. In 1961, he became the youngest artist ever to have his work displayed in the Museum of Paris.

In 1964, Villechaize left France for the United States. He settled in a Bohemian section of New York City, and taught himself English by watching television.

Villechaize initially worked as an artist, painter, and photographer. He began acting in Off-Broadway productions, including Werner Liepolt’s The Young Master Dante and a play by Sam Shepard, and he also modelled for photos for National Lampoon before moving on to film.

His first film appearance was in Chappaqua (1966). His second film was Edward Summer‘s Item 72-D: The Adventures of Spa and Fon, filmed in 1969. This was followed by several films, including The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (1971); Christopher Speeth and Werner Liepolt’s Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973); Crazy Joe (1974); and Oliver Stone’s first film, Seizure (1974) with the fabulous Mary Woronov.


He was asked to play a role in Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s film Dune, which had originally begun pre-production in 1971, but was later cancelled.

His big break was getting cast in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), by which time he had become so poor that he was living in his car in Los Angeles. Prior to being signed by Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, he made ends meet by working as a rat catcher’s assistant near his South Central home. From what his co-star Christopher Lee saw, The Man with the Golden Gun filming was possibly the happiest time of Villechaize’s life; Lee likened it to honey in the sandwich between an insecure past and an uncertain future.

In the 1970s, Villechaize performed Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street as a pair of legs peeping out from Oscar’s trash can, for scenes that required Oscar to be mobile. These appearances began in the third season, and included the 1978 Hawaii episodes.

In 1980, Cleveland International Records released a single by the Children of the World, featuring Villechaize as vocalist: “Why”, with B-side “When a Child Is Born”.

Though popular with the public, Villechaize proved a difficult actor on Fantasy Island, where he continually propositioned women and quarreled with the producers. He was eventually fired after demanding a salary on par with that of his co-star Ricardo Montalbán. For its final season from ’83-’84, Villechaize was replaced by Christopher Hewett, best known for his lead role in the sitcom Mr. Belvedere.

Villechaize also starred in the movie Forbidden Zone (1980), and appeared in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), and episodes of Diff’rent Strokes and Taxi. He later played the title role in the “Rumpelstiltskin” episode of Shelley Duvall‘s Faerie Tale Theatre. In the 1980s, he became popular in Spain due to his impersonations of Prime Minister Felipe González on the television show Viaje con nosotros (Travel with Us), with showman Javier Gurruchaga. His final appearance was a cameo as himself in an episode of The Ben Stiller Show.

In the mid-1970s, Villechaize met actress Susan Tyrrell. According to Tyrell, they had a two-year relationship and shared a home in the Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles.

Villechaize married twice. He married his first wife, artist Anne Sadowski, in 1970. After years of reported serial infidelities, as well as painful ridicule over their height differential, they divorced in 1978/1979 (conflicting sources). He met his second wife, Camille Hagen, an actress and stand-in double, in 1977 on the set of the pilot for Fantasy Island. They married in 1980 and Hagen filed for divorce 15 months later. During their marriage, they resided at a 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) San Fernando Valley ranch, which also was home to a menagerie of farm animals and pets.

In the early morning hours of September 4, 1993, at his North Hollywood home, Villechaize, aged 50, is believed to have first fired a shot through the sliding-glass patio door to awaken his longtime girlfriend, Kathy Self, before shooting himself. Self found Villechaize in his backyard, and he was pronounced dead at the Medical Center of North Hollywood. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean off Point Fermin in San Pedro, Los Angeles.

Villechaize left a suicide note saying he was despondent over longtime health problems. He was suffering from chronic pain due to having oversized internal organs putting increasing pressure on his body. According to Self, Villechaize often slept in a kneeling position so he could breathe more easily. He also left an audio recording of the suicide that included his last words.

At the time of his death, Cartoon Network was in negotiations for him to co-star in Space Ghost Coast to Coast, which was in pre-production at the time. Villechaize would have voiced Space Ghost‘s sidekick on the show.

color, mono, fullscreen VHS transfer. 43 minutes. DVD-R comes packages as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!



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