|Born||David Stephen Rappaport
November 23, 1951
|Died||May 2, 1990 (aged 38)
Los Angeles, California, USA
David Stephen Rappaport (November 23, 1951 – May 2, 1990) was an English actor, probably one of the best known dwarf actors in television and film. He was reported standing 3' 11" (1.19 m), although he himself told newspapers different heights, ranging from 3' 6" (1.07 m) up to 4 feet (1.22 m).
Rappaport was born to a Jewish taxi driver Mark and his wife Dinah in London, England, and soon developed talents in playing the accordion and drums, the latter of which he played professionally during his life. Rappaport studied psychology at the University of Bristol from 1970, graduating with a degree while developing his skills as a semi-professional drummer, and acting skills at the college dramatical society.
After six months in America, he returned to the United Kingdom to marry his college girlfriend, Jane. They had a son Joe, and Rappaport tried to settle down to family life as a teacher. But as his marriage broke down and he decided to follow a career in the boards, he became a resident of the squatter "nation" of Frestonia, acting as Foreign Minister under the name David Rappaport-Bramley - all inhabitants adopted the surname 'Bramley', so that if the Greater London Council were to succeed in an eviction, they would have to rehouse them as one family.
He first came to public notability in children's television, appearing alongside Sylvester McCoy as an O-Man in the 1970s BBC children's series Jigsaw. In the early 1980s he also played the character of "Shades" on the anarchic Saturday morning kids TV shows Tiswas and The Saturday Show. One of his most popular roles was as Randall, the leader of the gang of dwarves in the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits in 1981. He also made a notable turn starring opposite Clancy Brown and Sting in The Bride in 1985. From 1986-7, he played the lead role of Simon McKay in the CBS television series The Wizard. He also made notable guest appearances on such shows as The Goodies, The Young Ones, and L.A. Law. He was also the voice of Dr. Blight's computer, MAL, on Captain Planet and the Planeteers (replaced by Tim Curry after his death).
Rappaport struggled with depression later in his life. On May 2, 1990, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in Laurel Canyon Park in the San Fernando Valley, California. His body was returned to the United Kingdom and buried in a Jewish cemetery in Waltham Abbey, Essex.
Just before his death, he had been cast and began filming for the role of Kivas Fajo in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Most Toys". Scenes he had completed were later discarded, when actor Saul Rubinek was hurriedly brought in by producers to replace Rappaport and complete the episode. Rappaport's death and the accident that left Jack Purvis, his co-star, a quadriplegic were the main reasons why Terry Gilliam decided to shelve the intended sequel to Time Bandits, as their characters were two of the most heavily featured in the film.
Two of the creators of David Rappaport's US television series The Wizard, Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz, went on to produce Baywatch, the lifeguard-based drama. In this show's fifth season is an episode entitled "Short Sighted" which originally aired on 31 October 1994. Part of this episode concerns a junior lifeguard named Carter McKay (Nicholas Banko), whose father is named Simon McKay (Ed Gale) in namesake tribute to David's character on The Wizard. Carter is ashamed of his father's height and claims his father can't attend an upcoming father/son tournament, but when his father shows up and rescues a little girl from drowning (and is awarded a medal of valor for his heroic actions), Carter realises he should be proud of his dad.
This episode is dedicated "to the loving memory of David Rappaport."