David Rappaport was born to Jewish taxi driver Mark and his wife Diana, née Schneiderman in London, England. As a child, he 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 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 notability 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 pair 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). From 1986–87, 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. Rappaport was the voice of Dr. Blight’s computer, MAL, on Captain Planet and the Planeteers; he was replaced by Tim Curry. He also played Mr. Belvedere’s cousin on an episode of Mr. Belvedere entitled “Duel” Season 5 Episode 6.
In 1989, Rappaport was best man at the wedding of Hazel O’Connor and artist Kurt Bippert, which took place on Venice Beach, California. 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. On 2 May 1990, he committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest in Laurel Canyon Park in the San Fernando Valley in California. Rappaport’s death, along with 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 the US television series The Wizard, Michael Berk and Douglas Schwartz, went on to produce Baywatch, the lifeguard 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 cannot attend an upcoming father/son tournament, but when his father appears and rescues a little girl from drowning (and is awarded a medal of valor for his heroic actions), Carter realizes he should be proud of his father.
- November, 23, 1951
- United Kingdom
- London, England
- May, 02, 1990
- Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
- Waltham Abbey Jewish Cemetery
- Essex, England
- United Kingdom