Friday, 20 November 2015

Welcome To My Life Tattoo

The diminutive actor best known for his roles as Nick-Nack in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) and as Tattoo in the hit TV series Fantasy Island, Herve Villechaize was born on April 23, 1943 in Nazi-occupied Paris to his English mother Evelyn and French father André Villechaize, a doctor. At a young age he was diagnosed with an acute thyroid condition, resulting in dwarfism and leaving him with a full-grown height of just under 4 ft tall.

A gifted artist, in 1959 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, two years later becoming the youngest artist to ever have his work displayed in the Museum of Paris. In 1964 he left France for the USA, settling in New York, and taught himself English by watching television. He continued to work as as an artist and photographer, and began acting in Off Broadway productions. He even did some modelling for National Lampoon magazine.

In 1974, after appearing in Oliver Stone’s debut film Seizure he got his big break, landing the role of the tiny villain Nick-Nack in The Man with the Golden Gun. A move to California, where he met Aaron Spelling, resulted in his being cast opposite Ricardo Montalban in a 1977 ABC Movie of the Week pilot called Fantasy Island. A sequel - Return to Fantasy Island - followed in 1978 and a series was soon commissioned. Fantasy Island went on to run for six seasons from 1978-1983, making a household name out of Herve’s character Tattoo and his catchphrase ‘The plane! The plane!’ 

Unfortunately Herve’s newly found fame – and reported $25,000 an episode pay cheque – would also lead to his downfall. He met actress Donna Camille on the set and in September 1980 she became his second wife. The marriage quickly turned sour, with Donna filing for divorce in December 1981. A little over a year later, after demanding the same money for his role on Fantasy Island as front man Montalban, ABC dropped Herve from the show.

Herve quickly found himself short of money and was forced to sell his 2.5-acre and move into a rented house in North Hollywood. It was reported that he would often consume two bottles of wine in a single night – a huge amount for such a diminutive man. His health was suffering too: in increasing pain from internal organs that were too large for his body, Herve was forced to take a cocktail of pills each day to alleviate the symptoms. Unsurprisingly he began to suffer from frequent bouts of depression.

In the early morning of September 4, 1993 Kathy Self - Herve's friend of 14 years - found his body in the yard of his house. Herve had written a suicide note and, ghoulishly, also made and audio recording of his last moments. After saying goodbye to Kathy he aimed his gun into a pillow placed against his chest and pulled the trigger. The tape recorder caught the sound of Herve cocking the pistol and of Kathy arriving on the scene. She rushed him to hospital where he was declared deceased. He was 50 years old. Herve's body was cremated and the ashes scattered at sea. A sad, sad end.

However he did leave us with a legacy. Luckily for us Herve made several stabs at a recording career: in 1980 he released the single Why/When a Child is Born. Both of these tracks also featured on the charity album Children of the World: the Time is Now…and both of these tracks are included here for you now.


1 comment:

  1. Who was the charity that commissioned the "Children of The World" album? If they wanted sales to support them, then these two songs would do the opposite!


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