David Rappaport

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David Rappaport
David rappaport publicity.jpg
David Stephen Rappaport

(1951-11-23)23 November 1951
London, England
Died2 May 1990(1990-05-02) (aged 38)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeWaltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery, Waltham Abbey, Epping Forest District, Essex, England
OccupationActor, musician, writer, director, teacher
Years active1971–1990
Known forTime Bandits (1981)
Robin of Sherwood (1986)

David Stephen Rappaport (23 November 1951 – 2 May 1990) was an English actor with achondroplasia. He appeared in the films Time Bandits and The Bride, and television series L.A. Law, The Wizard and Captain Planet and the Planeteers. He was 3' 11" (1.19 m) in height.[1]

Early life[edit]

Rappaport was born to Jewish taxi driver Mark and his wife Diana, née Schneiderman in London. He was born with achondroplasia[citation needed], a common form of dwarfism. As a child, he developed talents in playing the accordion and drums, the latter of which he played professionally during his life.[2] 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 the United States, 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 as an actor, 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.


David Rappaport first came to public notice in children's television, appearing alongside Sylvester McCoy as an O-Man in the 1979 BBC children's series Jigsaw. Rappaport and McCoy had previously appeared together in Illuminatus! at the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool (founded by Ken Campbell and Chris Langham in 1976). The two men also appeared in the anarchic Ken Campbell Road Show. Rappaport was with the Road Show in 1979 when it featured in the Secret Policeman's Ball. While McCoy appeared as an escapologist, Campbell introduced Rappaport to the audience as: "Not the smallest man in the world, but fucking close...".

In the early 1980s Rappaport played the character of "Shades" on the anarchic Saturday morning kids TV shows Tiswas and The Saturday Show. One of Rappaport's most popular roles was as Randall, the leader of the gang of dwarves in the Terry Gilliam film Time Bandits in 1981. During the mid-80s, Rappaport played in the HTV production of Robin of Sherwood (released as Robin Hood in the US) with Jason Connery as Robin. The show was filmed in Bristol, where Rappaport had a home. During this time, he also made himself at home aboard Ki Longfellow-Stanshall and Vivian Stanshall's ship moored in the Bristol docks, the Old Profanity Showboat where he often appeared on stage. Rappaport appeared in 1985's The Bride as a circus dwarf who befriends Frankenstein's monster (played by 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Clancy Brown). In 1986, Rappaport appeared on the 1985-1987 NBC TV Series Amazing Stories in an episode called "Gather Ye Acorns" (starring Mark Hamill of Star Wars fame). From 1986 to 1987, Rappaport played the lead role of Simon McKay in the CBS television series The Wizard. Rappaport also made guest appearances on such shows as The Goodies, The Young Ones, and L.A. Law. In LA Law, Rappaport played crack trial lawyer Hamilton Schuyler from Texas, in two episodes. Both episodes were significant roles, opposing Jimmy Smits. The second of these, The Mouse that Roared, was filmed only 6 months prior to his death. Rappaport was the voice of Dr. Blight's computer, MAL, on Captain Planet and the Planeteers; he was replaced by Tim Curry after his first four appearances due to his passing 4 months before the series aired. He also played Mr. Belvedere's cousin on an episode of Mr. Belvedere entitled "Duel" Season 5 Episode 6.

Final years, death and legacy[edit]

In 1987, Rappaport was best man at the wedding of Hazel O'Connor and artist Kurt Bippert, which took place on Venice Beach, California.[citation needed]

Rappaport struggled with depression later in his life. 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". During filming, Rappaport attempted suicide, and the scenes he had completed were later discarded when actor Saul Rubinek was hurriedly brought in by producers to replace him and complete the episode. The scenes of Rappaport as Kivas Fajo were included on the Season 3 Blu-ray Disc release of Star Trek: The Next Generation.[3]

On 2 May 1990, he took his own life by shooting himself in the chest in Laurel Canyon Park in the San Fernando Valley in California.[4][5]

Two of the creators of the US television series The Wizard, Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz, went on to produce the lifeguard drama Baywatch. In this show's fifth season is an episode entitled "Short Sighted" which originally aired on 31 October 1994. Part of this episode concerns junior lifeguard Carter McKay (Nicholas Banko), whose father Simon McKay (Ed Gale) is a namesake tribute to Rappaport's character on The Wizard.[6][7]

On stage[edit]

  • Sleep Fast, They've Landed (Everybody Wants a Frozen Donkey for Christmas) (1971-1972) – Yellow
  • Stonehenge Follies
  • Illuminatus! (1975–1977) – Markoff Chaney
  • Portland Bill Street Theatre
  • The Immortalist - Reporter/Interviewer
  • Interplay
  • Volpone (1977) – Nano
  • The Warp
  • Little Brother Is Watching You (Small Is Beautiful) (1979) – himself
  • Secret Policeman's Ball 1979 – as member of Ken Campbell Road Show
  • Dr. Faustus (1980) – Beelzebub, Dick, Pope Adrian, and other characters
  • Cinderella (1980)
  • Exit The King (1983) – The Doctor
  • Lulu (1985) – Schigolch


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Mysteries (nl) Grogard
1979 Black Jack Tom Thumb's Army
1979 Cuba Jesus
1979 The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979) David Rappaport
1981 Time Bandits Randall
1984 Sword of the Valiant Sage
1984 Unfair Exchanges Arthur Screen Two, Series 1, Episode 3
1985 The Bride Rinaldo
1986-1987 The Wizard Simon McKay 19 episodes
1989 Luigi's Ladies Luigi
1990 Captain Planet MAL Voice


  1. ^ "David Rappaport, Character Actor, 38, Seen on 'L.A. Law'". New York Times. 4 May 1990. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  2. ^ "David Rappaport Pages – biographical". Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  3. ^ "TNG S3 Blus: David Rappaport "The Most Toys" Footage Will Be Included". 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Star Wars to Snow White: The life of a dwarf actor". BBC News. 23 December 1999. Retrieved 6 May 2009.
  5. ^ JOCELYN Y. STEWART (4 May 1990). "Actor Rappaport Apparent Suicide Victim". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ The Wizard Official Fansite & Definitive Cyberhome
  7. ^ Summary of Baywatch episode "Short Sighted" at TV.com

External links[edit]