Twenty years ago Hervé Villechaize, the star of the 70s hit TV show Fantasy Island, committed suicide in his Los Angeles home at the age of 50.
Villechaize was born in Paris in 1943 where he began a career in the arts through painting. But the discipline didn’t capture his interest, and in 1964 he left Paris for America where he pursued a career in acting. But, like many in the field, his career was off to a rocky start with few jobs offered to him. When he hit rock bottom financially, Villechaize was offered a role in The Man With the Golden Gun and from there his career began to gain traction. Eventually, he landed a co-starring role in Fantasy Island, and soon “Tattoo” was a household name along with the phrase “De plane! De plane!”
But even with this success, Villechaize dealt with many issues. He was reportedly difficult to work with on set and was accused of sexual harassing his female co-stars. In time he was fired from Fantasy Island over a salary dispute. He also suffered from myriad health issues and noted that was what drove him to suicide by way of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In a tape recorded note to his then-girlfriend Kathy, he said: “I’ve always been a proud man and always wanted to make you proud of me. You know you made me feel like a giant and that’’s how I want you to remember me. I’m doing what I have to do.”