April 23, 1943 – September 4, 1993
Herve is best known for his role as Tattoo in the television show, Fantasy Island. The show ran from 1978 to 1984 – but Herve quit the show in 1983 over a salary dispute. He was also in The Man with the Golden Gun and other things, like a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, which I thought was kind of funny (“the plain, the plain.”), and that bizarre film The Forbidden Zone, where he plays a horny king that humps everything that moves.
I think that someone his size (3′ 11″) might have a problem finding steady work, although he was pretty damn lucky. Although he found recognition in “novelty roles”, they eventually stopped coming.
Herve also had more than his share of health problems as well. Dwarves often do. He was born with undersized lungs and had nearly died of pneumonia in 1992. He also suffered from ulcers and a spastic colon.
He lived in North Hollywood on W. Killion Street.
On the afternoon of Saturday, September 4th, 1993, he wrote a note and made a tape recording, saying he was despondent over health problems. He then went to his back yard (behind this garage),
and shot himself in the chest.
Thanks to our friends at Celebrity Archive, we now have a copy of Herve’s suicide note.
The general deciphering of this is:
3 Spt 93
I have to do what’s right. At 6 years old I knew there was no place for me. Who believed my (illegible) best friend girl will not call my mom to answer the Q’s. I hope she does not hurt. I’m still alive. Please know Kathy has the right of attorney over my health and my belongings belong to Kathy Self including the right to a script and movie and writings, etc. I love you all too much, it’s one of just of my problems. Mom! My brothers you didn’t exhist to my heart you never care only about yourselves since 1955, you remember??? Kathy did her best, you didn’t so she deserves everything.
It goes on for a bit…
3am I can’t miss with a dum dum bullet – Ha! Ha! Never one knew my pain – for 40 years – or more. Have to do it outside less mess.
This document and will are a fascinating read, thanks guys.
DECEMBER 1999: A HUGE Findadeath.com thank you goes to Terri Rios and Sarah Weathers for getting these photographs. Even the folks at E Hollywood Story couldn’t get access to this place. I owe you guys. Big time. Terri boosted Sarah here, so she could see over the fence. She did, and saw the yard.
On that particular Saturday afternoon back in 1993, Herve was sitting on this patio,
in front of this glass door, with the gun
When he shot himself, (through two pillows, according to Findadeath.com friend KATE) the bullet shattered the glass door, and entered the house.
It went into the kitchen through here,
then passed through here,
and eventually ended up in here.
Busy bullet. Are these photographs amazing or what? Thank you a thousand times over, Terri and Sarah.
March 2005 – Richard Venola sends us this weapon info: Following two hours of caffeine and Googling, I knew everything about poor doomed Herve than I ever wanted to. So off to Borders it was. Parrish’s “Hollywood Book of Death” (Lord, but I hope he’s accurate) says that Villechaize used a .38 caliber revolver. He also states that there were three shots fired and that two went into the kitchen, one shattering the glass door and the other passing through. Odd, but this is the first mention of successive shots. These are not uncommon, especially in chest suicides and more common among women than men (vanity). Of course, the gun guy in me immediately suspects that a man troubled by size issues would have had a .357 Magnum, which is the same diameter (in spite of the name) as a .38 but handles a hotter cartridge. Thanks Rick.
My buddy, EJ Fleming, writes: There is a cassette recording of his suicide. Yes, he taped it. And Parrish was wrong. There were two shots fired, according to police reports. The first one went through the window and rattled around the house like a BB in a tin can. The second one killed him, but not right away. On the recording, there’s a huge explosion, the sound of the broken glass, and then and you can hear him say, “shit!.” There’s about a ten second pause and then another shot. He moaned for a while and then died. I’m almost certain that he was still alive when the girlfriend came out and found the little fella. I love a love story. Okay Findadeath friends, lets find that tape!
The night that Herve died, he attended a screening of The Fugitive at the Directors Guild Theater in Hollywood with Katherine Self and had dinner afterwards at a restaurant near their home.
Herve was 50 years old.
Kathy Self, who, according to some, was his common-law wife (although she didn’t live with him), discovered his body, and called an ambulance. He was taken to the Medical Center of North Hollywood, on Riverside Drive.
I can only hope, but maybe he was behind one of these windows.
Or maybe these?
Anyway, he died there, at 3:40 in the afternoon. Thanks again to Findadeath.com friend Terri Rios for the snaps of Herve’s home and the hospital. You are tops.
May 2001 – Findadeath.com friend Tom sends this correction in: Kathy Self, said that it was the middle of the night when Herve shot himself. She’d been asleep, the gunshots woke her, and when she went out to the patio she had trouble seeing things because it was dark. On his death certificate, the time of death is listed at 0340, yet Herve’s page lists his time of death as 3:40 in the afternoon, which would have been 1540. Thanks Tom!
TOTAL CLARIFICATION – June 2007 by Kathy Self:
I just read the report you have about Herve’s death, and there are several errors I thought you might like to correct. None of the photos shown of the house or the patio were taken until months or even years after Herve’s death. I lived with him the last 4 years of his life and we never ever had drapes like those or even those ghastly potholders (LOVE! – s) shown in the kitchen. The bullet holes were real and true though. The bullet passed through the glass patio door, (shattering it), then through the kitchen cabinets and ended up in the shower stall of the master bath where I found it, and still have it to this day. He died around 3:10 a.m. and it was at home, he never went up to any rooms in the hospital, so he is not behind any of those windows. He went from the ER to the morgue. As for the service at the Little Brown Chapel: it was put on for self-promotion by a wannabe actress whose name I have forgotten. Herve’s ashes were not in attendance; I had them and dumped 100% into the ocean. He was not leaning against the glass doors when he shot himself; he was on the opposite side of the patio near the back wall, well away from the house, and nowhere near the garage, which is way on the opposite side of the house from the patio. And that is where I found him, and he was still alive, and he was able to speak to me. He died after I called the paramedics and they arrived, and before they placed him on the gurney to go to the hospital, he passed away. I have no problem with you posting anything about him, but it might as well be true. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me.
I have a question for you. Well, two actually. One: Do you still live in the house? and Two: Is it true that Herve tape recorded this, and have you heard, do you have this?
I no longer live in the house. It was a rented duplex, and as I was also keeping a home in El Segundo so my son could go to school there, I just stayed there after Herve died. I believe the house has since been destroyed to make way for an apartment building, but I do not know for sure. I do know other people moved in after a few months. I do not know how long they lived there. Yes, Herve did record his death. I do not have the recording; the police took it along with 2 handguns when they arrived soon after the paramedics. They did play it and I did hear it though, which I was glad of. I believe that he recorded the entire episode to protect me in case the police might think I shot him. It begins with his going out onto the patio, saying he has his pillows and he hopes it’ll muffle the sound. He says what is on his mind, how he loves everyone, this is no one’s fault, he tried to hang on but the pain was just too great. He says I (meaning me, Kathy) knew what to do, and to let me handle everything. And he was leaving everything to me. Then he said “now I guess I just pull this” and you hear the shot. He grunts, then there is a pause, and then he said, “well, I guess I just have to wait” and then you hear me come outside and ask what happened, etc. He says “I’m dying” and I say no your not and I go in to call paramedics.
He had disabled every phone in the house, taken them apart, he did not want to be saved. Luckily he did not remove the battery from the cell phone, because I did not know how to put it back in, so I used that to call paramedics. There is more of my talking to him and you hear me on the phone with 911. I wish the police had given the tape back to me, but since he and I were not married, and California is not a common law state, they considered me “nothing” as far as relation to Herve, and let me have nothing back.
I appreciate you making these things available to the public. I know some people are very interested in the deaths of famous people, and that is fine, as long as the facts are straight. He was in the Los Angeles City morgue for several days before his body was given to the UCLA Medical Center, (he had donated his body to science) so I am sure there are some private photos taken of his dead body by the morgue staff. I would not be surprised if one or more floated to the surface one day. After staying at UCLA for only 3 days, his body was released to The Neptune Society where he was cremated and I scattered his ashes at sea. He had made prearrangement’s for all of this. I spoke to the people at UCLA and they said they took skin and cartilage samples, which was all they needed. I used to tease Herve and say after he died I would go to UCLA to visit him, he’d be in the third mayonnaise jar on the left on the second shelf. He had a wicked sense of humor.
If there is anything more I can do to help or add, please do not hesitate to let me know.
Thank you Kathy, for your generous addition to the final chapter of Herve’s life, for us.
Upon hearing the news of his death, his former co-star Ricardo Montalban issued the following statement, “I considered his contribution to Fantasy Island one of the keys to the tremendous success that the show enjoyed.” Hmm. That sentence says a lot more, doesn’t it?
Update January 2000:
Findadeath.com friend, Mark Cramer, lives in the area, and informed me that there was a memorial service shortly after Herve’s death, held at the “Little Brown Church of the Valley,” located at 4418 Coldwater Canyon Boulevard. Locals know it as the little brown butthole.
It’s where Ronnie and Nancy were married.
So whatever was left of Herve, was brought in the church
and undoubtedly brought up to the altar.
Great Job Mark. Thanks so much for the info and the pictures! Mark recalls driving by the place on the day, and it was crawling with people and photographers.
Herve’s body was cremated and he was scattered at sea, off Point Fermin, Los Angeles on the 14th.
Trivia: They filmed the opening scenes of Fantasy Island at the Los Angeles Arboretum, in Arcadia.
The Queen Anne Cottage is on the property.
The first time I went there, they were filming Anaconda. Despite that fact, it’s a very cool place.
Trivia: I have a good friend who is a midget (they prefer to be called “little people”), and she told me that “normal” size people find midgets incredibly sexy.
Trivia: Remember wrapping your kid in flame retardant (heh) costumes?
In 1997 – Ricardo Montalban was (according to one tabloid) battling an ailment called AVMs; it causes hemorrhaging in the spine. Yuk. I hear he needs a walker to get around now.
UPDATE: Ricardo had back surgery in 1993, and as of last year, was considering having a morphine drip implanted directly into his spine. Yuk.
UP UP UPDATE – DEAD.
TRIVIA: in November of 1999, Gene Levitt, who created “Fantasy Island,” passed away from prostate cancer.
UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend Mamma Bear: In his heyday, Herve lived not too far from me in Shadow Hills, California (a suburb of Sunland), on a ranch with horses. We would go by there sometimes and he would be doing yard work or taking out the trash, and would always smile and say Hi. When you are a kid and Fantasy Island, along with the Love Boat are two of the biggest shows on TV, that is a real treat to see one of it’s main stars, doing chores just like the average person.
Thanks, Mamma! The plane (the plane!) that was used in Fantasy Island was up for auction. Of course they wanted some ungodly amount of money for it. The cool thing about it: it was signed by all the guest stars. Maureen McCormick actually touched it. That’s what she said.
Findadeath.com friend Tony Chambless tells me, “A quick addition. The plane used for Fantasy Island was also owned previously by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He had to auction it and several other planes he owned in a bankruptcy procedure.” Thanks Tony.
Trivia 2014: From Findadeath friend Nick Tsacoumangos
“Here is the business card that Herve gave me many years ago when I had dinner with him at the Magic Castle. My wife managed a Veterinary Clinic in Hermosa Beach and the dinner was for an animal charity fund. My job was primarily to be Ali McGraw’s companion for the evening, but I took the time to eat with Herve while Ali sat right across the table from us. Earl Holliman and Ed Asner were also there.
Herve was very passionate about the Liga Internatinoal charity that he was involved with, and he spent a good deal of time telling me about it. He also took some time to tell me how he was ruined financially by his TV experience, but I do not recall the details. He was smoking a cigar and interjecting some effective curse words. It made for a surreal experience because he was so diminutive, but very assertive in his story telling. I found him to be a nice, but likely a lonely man from the way he confided in me. I do remember that he had a difficult time holding his knife and fork due to his small fingers. The dinner was overall very enjoyable. It was embarrassing later on when he was addressing the crowd from the stage and he had to be essentially “shooed” off because the host of the event felt that he was rambling on too long. I am glad that I met him, and I feel sorry for the circumstances of his passing.”
Did you notice the plane, the plane?
Thank you, Nick. What a great story.
Trivia 2014: The Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park closed down, but the immortals’ footprints are still outside. For now.
After seeing this picture, well, the world can just end now. There is nothing else to do. This completes it.