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by Hank Willow, staff reporter,  [November 26, 2001]





[]  "It hurts, it hurts ... I'm dying, I'm dying!"

Those were the heart-rending final gasps of Hervé Villechaize, the diminutive Fantasy Island star whose tragic short life ended in a 1993 suicide, according to James Parish's shocking new Hollywood Book of Death!

Villechaize spoke into a tape recorder -- still running as blood gushed from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to his broken heart -- draining life from his tiny sickly body!

Before shooting, Villechaize taped a heart-breaking final message to his towering live-in love, the 5'8" Kathy Self:

"Kathy, I can't live like this anymore," said Villechaize.  "I've always been a proud man and always wanted to make you proud of me.  You know you made me feel like a giant, and that's how I want you to remember me.  I'm doing what I have to do."

Villechaize's suffered from a form of dwarfism in which internal organs are normal- sized--but crammed into a tiny body.  He lost most of his $3.6 million Fantasy Island windfall on bad business and bad women.

Too late in his tragically short life of 50 years, Villechaize found his true love, Kathy -- his health by now rapidly deteriorating!  Villechaize could not sleep on his back, a lung had failed, and he was always coughing up blood.  On September 4, 1993, he shot his own broken heart.

Villechaize's final act was to muffle the gun under two pillows -- so as not to disturb his beloved Kathy's sleep!

Villechaize's heart-rending suicide is one of over 125 shocking celeb death tales in The Hollywood Book of Death, in which Parish reveals how:

* Dana Plato's fiancé Robert Menchaca awoke to find the Diff'rent Strokes star lying beside him in bed -- a cold and lifeless corpse!

The 35-year-old Plato had intentionally overdosed on painkillers and Valium -- then lay down to die beside her 28-year-old boy toy!

Even more shocking: Plato's relatives alleged that the heartless Menchaca attended the funeral with a camera -- hoping to hawk lurid death photos of his fiancée's corpse to sleazy tabloids!

* After Katherine Cochran filed for divorce from Chico and the Man star Freddie Prinze, Prinze became so "crazed" over losing his 10-month-old son -- he shot himself to death before the horrified eyes of his manager, Marvin "Dusty" Snyder!

Amazingly, despite having already filed for divorce, Katherine Cochran sued -- and got! -- nearly $1 million in malpractice settlements from the psychiatrist and doctor who treated Prinze's depression!

Yet while Cochran blamed doctors for Prinze's death, Prinze wrote in his suicide note: "No one had anything to do with this.  My decision totally."

But Prinze's grief-stricken mother had another theory: "If anyone killed him, it was Hollywood!"


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* Hogan's Heroes's Bob Crane was no hero!  He not only cheated on his wives -- he videotaped his sordid perversions for his own cheap thrills!

Police found over 50 sickening videotapes of Crane's kinky sexcapades in the seedy motel room in which his battered bloody corpse was found! -- by a "shapely actress" whom Crane promised to "advise" on her audition tapes!

Not every report in Parish's book is sordid.

There is the heart-breaking tale of Michael Landon's brave last days -- an actor so beloved that 500 family and friends attended his 1991 funeral -- including former President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan!

Parish's news is old news, and many of his "celebs" are now obscure and forgotten -- but The Hollywood Book Of Death usefully compiles old data under one cover.  Aside from the 125 bios, an appendix lists the birth and death dates of 6,000 celebs.  Another appendix lists cemeteries and which celebs they inter!

Being buried near your favorite celeb has just been made easier!

The book has one glaring omission: unlike the classic Hollywood Babylon, Parish's Hollywood Book of Death has no shocking candid photos!

Parish says of Veronica Lake's heart-breaking decline: "A reporter found her working as a barmaid and the discovery made headlines worldwide, with accompanying photos of the now-bloated, strained-looking Lake."

Bloated celebs?

Investigative minds want to see!

But The Hollywood Book of Death has no autopsy photos of bloated and carved corpses!  No police photos of blooded and brutalized bodies!  The photo of Veronica Lake is a studio glossy of the star at her peak!

The book's celebs go back to the 1920s.  Its recent celebs include: River Phoenix, Phil Hartman, Madeline Kahn, John Candy, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Rock Hudson, Sonny Bono, Anthony Perkins, Rebecca Schaeffer, and Tupac Shakur.  Also James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley -- but not rock legend Jim Morrison!

Investigative minds will find their intellectual thirst less than satisfied by The Hollywood Book of Death.  But it teaches an important lesson, best summarized by its quote from Sonny Bono, who said of fame:

"You're just borrowing it.  It's like money.  You're going to die, and somebody else is going to get it."


Hank Willow is a Los Angeles based tabloid reporter who has extensively investigated Hollywood scams against actors. Read more about his journalism in Hollywood Witches.

Copyright 2001 by


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