Herve Villechaize (April 23, 1943-September 4, 1993) was a French actor of Filipino ancestry who achieved worldwide recognition for his role as Mr. Roarke's assistant, Tattoo, in the television series Fantasy Island (1978 - 1984).
He was also well known for playing the evil henchman Nick Nack in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.
Villechaize suffered from dwarfism due to a thyroid dysfunction, despite his sergeant father's attempts to cure the disease in several institutions. In later years, he insisted on being called a midget, rather than "little person," irritating activists like Billy Barty.
Born and raised in Paris, Villechaize was bullied at school for his condition and found solace in painting. After studying art at college, he left for the USA at his father's urging to avoid the severe prejudice against dwarfs in France.
He settled in a bohemian section New York, taught himself English by watching TV shows, and continued his career as an artist and photographer. He began acting in off-Broadway productions, including a play by Sam Shepard, before moving on to film.
His first movie appearance was in Chappaqua in 1966, which was followed by several films including Crazy Joe, Seizure directed by Oliver Stone, The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight and The Forbidden Zone.
His big break was getting cast in The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974, by which time he had become so poor he was living out of his car in Los Angeles.
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 that his pay be on par with that of co-star Ricardo Montalb├ín. The show's popularity waned soon after this move, and it was soon cancelled. According to his former butler in an episode of E! True Hollywood Story, Villechaize never got over losing his job, and for the remainder of his life practiced an often nightly ritual of drinking in a darkened room while screaming obscenities at an episode of Fantasy Island playing on his television.
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 chastize spousal and child abusers when he arrived at crime scenes.
As a consequence of his health problems and troubles in his professional career, Villechaize became alcoholic and depressive in the last few years of his life, which led to erratic and sometimes violent behavior, including an incident in which he allegedly held his agent at gunpoint in a booth at a restaurant in L.A.
In 1993, he shot himself at his home and was found by his common law wife, Kathy Self. He died in a hospital in North Hollywood, California as a result of his injuries, aged 50.
At the time of his suicide, 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 been Space Ghost's sidekick on the show.