The Plain Truth: Meeting Herve Villachaize
On April 29, 1992, I met “Fantasy Island” star Herve Villachaize. It happened at a Hollywood bistro where I was having lunch with my girlfriend Katharine and her father, the late voice actor Gene McGarr. McGarr and Villachaize greeted each other warmly; they’d known each other for years.
Dressed head-to-toe in stylish, coordinated black – the polar opposite of his “Fantasy Island” garb – Villachaize was every bit the man I’d expected him to be. He was polite and gentlemanly, even a bit shy – he clucked his tongue disapprovingly at my girlfriend’s exposed belly (she had a peculiar habit of rolling her sweaters up into her bra) – and he poked self-deprecating fun as his stature, saying to Katharine, “I haven’t seen you since you were this big,” with a hand held a few inches above his head.
I shook his hand – nice, solid grip – and said that it was a singular honor to meet him, which it was.
“You too, you too,” he said. “Make her cover up that belly button.”
As we parted ways, Villachaize did something unusual: He pumped his fist in the air and rasped “Power to the people.” I thought that an unusual parting shot … until three hours later, when the Rodney King riots were handed down and Los Angeles broke out in riots.
Now, I’m not insinuating that Herve Villachaize helped to engineer one of the most devastating American riots in recent history, but when you factor together the pumped fist, the guerilla-like black outfit and the years spent as Ricardo Montalban’s enforcer … well, draw your own conclusions.