Monday, August 31, 2009


Fantasy Island is the title of two separate but related American fantasy television series, both originally airing on the ABC television network. Before it became a long-running original television show, Fantasy Island was introduced to viewers in 1977 through two highly-rated made-for-television films in which Mr. Roarke and Tattoo played relatively minor roles. Airing from 1978 to 1984, the original series starred Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke, the enigmatic overseer of a mysterious island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, where people from all walks of life could come and live out their fantasies, albeit for a price.

Roarke was known for his white suit and cultured demeanor, and was initially accompanied by an energetic sidekick, Tattoo, played by Hervé Villechaize. Tattoo would run up the main bell tower to ring the bell and shout "The plane! The plane!" to announce the arrival of a new set of guests at the beginning of each episode. This line, shown at the beginning of the show's credits, became an unlikely catchphrase because of Villechaize's spirited delivery and French accent (he actually pronounced it, "Ze plane! Ze plane!").

Villechaize proved a difficult actor on Fantasy Island where he continually propositioned women and quarrelled with the producers. He was eventually fired after demanding that his pay be on par with that of co-star Ricardo Montalbán. The show's popularity waned after this move, and it was soon cancelled.

Tribute to Hervé Jean-Pierre Villechaize (April 23, 1943 - September 4, 1993) was a French actor who achieved worldwide recognition for his role as Tattoo, in the television series Fantasy Island (1978 - 1984). His big break was getting cast in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974 playing the evil henchman Nick Nack, by which time he had become so poor he was living out of his car in Los Angeles. Prior to being signed up by Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, he made ends meet by working as a rat catcher's assistant near his South Central home. But from what his co-actor Christopher Lee saw, The Man with the Golden Gun filming was possibly the happiest time of Hervé's life, Lee likening it to honey in the sandwich between an insecure past and an uncertain future.
In addition to being an actor, Villechaize became an active member of a movement in 1970s-1980s California to deal with child abuse and neglect, often going to crime scenes himself to help comfort abuse victims. Villechaize's former co-workers recalled that despite his stature, he would often confront and chastise spousal and child abusers when he arrived at crime scenes. In the early morning hours of September 4, 1993, Hervé shot himself at his home. He left a suicide note saying he was despondent over longtime health problems. RIP Herve. [wikipedia]

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