Millions of people remember Hervé Villechaize as the pleasant “little person” who would announce “De plane!” De plane” as he stood beside Ricardo Montelban on the 1970’s TV show Fantasy Island or as the lovable rogue in The Man with The Golden Gun.
However, his on screen persona was much different and he was deemed a sex-mad hell raiser who blew over 6 million dollars of his fortune on women and liquor! Born in France while the Nazi were occupying that country, Herve had a hard childhood, including enduring painful experimental treatments for his condition. Eventually, Hervé left France and headed to New York City. As fate would have it, Villechaize became one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, unfortunately his wild lifestyle sent him spiraling downward and ended tragically in 1993.
The wild times began in 1974 when he starred beside Roger Moore in the 007 film The Man with The Golden Gun. The late Sir Roger has been quoted as saying: “He (Herve) told me 35 women. I told him that did not count as he paid for them, but he said, ‘Yes, but sometimes when I pay they refuse.
“He was a sex maniac — his lust for ladies was unnatural. When we were in Hong Kong and Bangkok he would find girls in girly clubs and go with a flashlight, picking them out saying, ‘I like you, and you, not you.”
Those wild times continued throughout his career. Hollywood producer Mark Evanier recalled how Herve’s rocket to stardom, made him an egomaniacal, sex crazed, womanizer. Evanier said: “He drove them nuts on our set, grabbing and groping from unanticipated angles, and demanding they zip his fly. Because of his condition, Hervé had no strength in his hands. He could barely grip anything and certainly could not, he claimed, work his own zipper.
“Every time he had a costume change or a toilet break, he would stride up to the most attractive woman around and insist she do the honors.”
At the age of 37, Herve married 24-year-old Camille Hagen, a Fantasy Island extra. Fifteen months later she filed for divorce and that was the beginning of the end. Herve started arriving late, or drunk, to the set of Fantasy Island and demanded the same money as co-star Ricardo.
That kind of behavior got him fired from the show and blackballed in Hollywood. With no acting gigs he was forced to sell his ranch and appear in embarrassing advertisements and personal appearances just to make ends meet.
The new TV film, My Dinner With Hervé, reveals how Herve came to be who he was from a look back at his painful childhood, both figuratively and literally.
Born to an English mother living in Nazi occupied Paris in 1943, his mother struggled to love him when he was diagnosed with the endocrine disorder which stunted his growth.
His father André, a surgeon, was devoted to the youngest of his four sons and determined to find a cure for his condition. That often included painful experimental treatments, however after all proved unsuccessful, when Herve turned 13 he refused any more longer.
In Depressed and in pain as a result of his condition, Hervé recorded his final words, leaving his possessions to girlfriend Kathy Self, then shot himself.
He said: “Mum, my brothers, you didn’t exist to my heart. You never care, only about yourselves since 1955. You remember? Kathy, you know you always made me feel like a giant — and that’s how I want you to remember me.”