Welcome to ‘Fantasy Island’: 5 Fun Facts About the Mysterious Drama

Fantasy Island Ricardo Montalban, Herve Villechaize, 1978-1984
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Fantasy Island began as two made-for-television movies and did so well that it became a series, which aired from 1978 to 1984. Every Saturday night, fans would wait with excitement to hear Tattoo yell “De plane! De plane!” to find out who was heading to Fantasy Island that week. People could come to live out their fantasies on the mysterious island, overseen by Mr. Roarke, but with anything, there was always a price. In honor of the finale, which aired 40 years ago, let’s learn some interesting facts about the show!

1The network and producer Aaron Spelling wanted different actors in the lead role

Fantasy Island Ricardo Montalban, 1978-84

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ABC reportedly wanted Orson Welles, best known for Citizen Kane, in the lead role. However, Spelling wanted Ricardo Montalbán and he was ultimately chosen. John Huston was also considered for the role. In another battle, an ABC executive wanted to replace Hervé Villechaize (Tattoo) with an attractive girl. Spelling wanted Villechaize to stay and we can’t imagine the show without him. Sadly, Villechaize died by suicide in 1993.

2At first, the show was just a joke

Producer Aaron Spelling arrives at "Platinum Guild Internationals Women With Heart" celebrity auction February 12, 2002 in Los Angeles, CA.

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Reportedly, Spelling was in a meeting with the network, going over some ideas for another new show. They weren’t liking any of his ideas and he decided to get sarcastic and said, “What would you like me to do? Put some guy on an island and have him grant wishes to people?” Although he was being sarcastic, the network loved the idea and it eventually became Fantasy Island.

3Ricardo Montalbán had his own story for what ‘Fantasy Island’ was

Fantasy Island Herve Villechaize, Ricardo Montalban, 1978-1984

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While Fantasy Island is never truly explained on the show, Montalbán had his own thoughts on the island and his character. He once said, “Even though the audience didn’t realize what I was thinking… I decided this man was an angel who still had a little sin of pride in him… so he is in charge of purgatory, and he has his little cherub to help him.”

4Villechaize played another iconic character

Sesame Street Oscar the Grouch, 1969-

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While he is most known for his role as Tattoo, he also worked on Sesame Street. Whenever you saw Oscar the Grouch moving with his feet sticking out of the bottom of the trash can in the ’70s, it was Villechaize acting as the performer. In 1978, Sesame Street traveled to Hawaii for a special, the same year Fantasy Island began and where the opening credits were filmed. The opening scenes show Kauai, Hawaii but most of Fantasy Island was filmed in Burbank, California.

5There were some amazing guest stars

FANTASY ISLAND, from left: Robert Goulet, Florence Henderson in 'Random Choices/My Mother, the Swinger' (Season 7, Episode 8, aired December 3, 1983), 1978-84.

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The show aired over 150 episodes which starred some very special guests staying on the island. Many hit shows of the time lent their stars to Fantasy Island including half of the cast of Happy Days, Brady Bunch stars including Florence HendersonMaureen McCormick and Eve Plumb, singers Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck, Larry Wilcox from CHiPs, Dick York from Bewitched, LeVar Burton, Sammy Davis Jr. and many more. Let us know who your favorite guest star was!

Fantasy Island from left: LeVar Burton, Sammy Davis Jr. in 'Edward/The Extroadinary Miss Jones' (Season 6, Episode 19, aired April 9, 1983), 1978-84.

Everett Collection

Tell us, did you watch Fantasy Island and do you have a favorite episode?


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