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Actor Rappaport Apparent Suicide Victim

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Television actor David Rappaport was found dead in a Los Angeles park Wednesday evening, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

Rappaport’s body was found by a jogger in Laurel Canyon Park off Mulholland Drive about 6 p.m. Wednesday, police said. He had been shot once in the chest, authorities said, and a weapon was found near the body.

Police said the wound was apparently self-inflicted and did not indicate that there was foul play. They said the actor, who was engaged to be married, had been reported missing Tuesday.

Rappaport, 38, most recently played the role of a cunning attorney on “L.A. Law.” The 3-foot-11 actor suffered from achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism in which the trunk of the body grows, but arms and legs are stunted.

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On March 4, Rappaport was hospitalized suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. Police found him lying unconscious and not breathing in an idling Volkswagen with a hose connected from the exhaust pipe to the inside of the car. Detectives described the incident as “an obvious suicide attempt.”

The former school teacher played in the 1981 movie “Time Bandits” and gained popularity in the United States in 1985 with another British film, “The Bride.” That role eventually led to guest appearances on several talk shows and television series.

At the peak of his career, Rappaport starred in the 1986-87 television series “The Wizard” as a genius toy maker with special powers to “solve unsolvable problems.”

The series was the first in television history with a dwarf as its star.

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“No one can figure this out,” said Rappaport’s publicist, Joel Parker, who said he knew of no reasons why the actor would kill himself.

Parker dismissed speculations that Rappaport was despondent over his career.

“I know that he was very busy,” Parker said. Rappaport was to begin filming a movie in Ireland in September and a syndicated series, “Beyond the Groove,” was to debut in July.

Parker also dismissed the idea that unhappiness over his height led the actor to take his life.

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“Everyone seems to agree that he was very well adjusted to that. . . .” he said.

At times, Rappaport seemed unfazed by his size and appeared to count it as an asset to his career.

“If you don’t give up, you can turn anything to your advantage,” he said in a 1986 interview. “I’m much more widely known than if I were six feet tall.

“I know there are people who look at me and immediately think ‘handicapped.’ But being small hasn’t stopped me from doing anything I’ve ever wanted to do.”

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But two years later, Rappaport told a different interviewer that he had faced discrimination because of his size, and he expressed a desire to be treated like “a regular, boring normal person.”

He said: “I look at boring people every day and I say, ‘God, I wish I could be like that.’ But my lot is to be unique, special, so I have to put up with it. It’s a hard life.”

Rappaport is survived by his ex-wife Jane and a 13-year-old son, Joe. The funeral will be held in London next Tuesday and a memorial service will be held later in Los Angeles.


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