“What’s her fantasy, boss?”
Tattoo was Mr. Roarke‘s assistant, the short guy with the roving eye. He loved his job, but evidently, it wasn’t exactly making him rich; in the first few years, at least, he was always up for a scheme (usually invented by his cousin, Hugo, whom we never got to meet) to make millions overnight. Even after Hugo stopped suckering his poor cousin, Tattoo still dreamed of being filthy rich…till finally, he figured out that having money isn’t everything [“The Winning Ticket“, Season 6].
Sometimes Tattoo was a trial to Roarke, but you could tell the two of them were the best of friends, and very loyal to each other. When a scheming guest set out to take advantage of Tattoo so she could get what she wanted, Roarke stood up for him [“Tattoo’s Romance“, Season 3]. When Roarke had to battle Mephistopheles to save some souls—including his own—Tattoo insisted there was no way anyone but his boss could possibly run Fantasy Island [“The Devil and Mandy Breem“, Season 4]. Roarke even consented to grant Tattoo a fantasy or two of his own [“Tattoo: The Love God“, Season 3; “Portrait of Solange“, Season 4].
Tattoo was always ogling the native girls on the island—and there were plenty of them to ogle. He rarely took romance seriously, but there were some signs that deep inside, Tattoo yearned to be a husband and daddy someday. He fell truly in love twice [“Tattoo’s Romance”, “Portrait of Solange”] and came very close to adopting a baby boy at one point [“Baby“, Season 3]. But most of the time, he was reduced to trying, time and again, to wangle dates with as many attractive girls as he could. He was nearly always rebuffed, but that never stopped him!
From time to time Roarke allowed Tattoo to have charge of a fantasy [“Mr. Tattoo“, Season 2; “Kid Corey Rides Again“, Season 5]; but at least once, Tattoo overstepped his bounds and took on a fantasy without asking his boss for permission first [“Instant Millionaire“, Season 4]. They ended just as happily as any of Roarke’s other fantasies, although even Tattoo couldn’t help wondering if Roarke hadn’t intervened when nobody was looking!
In the early seasons, Tattoo had a couple of animal sidekicks; Chester, a mischievous chimpanzee whose favorite pastime was stealing Tattoo’s car (only on an enchanted island could a chimp drive a car), and Pepper, a large and colorful parrot who could talk. Chester, the more visible of the two, had a way of getting on Tattoo’s nerves with his thieving [“The Wedding“, Season 3; “The Return/The Toughest Man Alive“, Season 2] and once even laid waste to Roarke’s study in the main house [“Bowling/Command Performance“, Season 2] by exploding the rocket fuel Tattoo was trying to develop. Maybe the final straw was when Tattoo attempted to run against Roarke for the position of Honorary Lord Mayor of the island, and Chester snacked on a ballot, voiding the one and only vote Tattoo received [“Hit Man/The Swimmer“, Season 3]; in any case, the chimp pretty much vanished after that. But he and Pepper redeemed themselves when Tattoo got kidnapped and they helped him in a silly scheme to get the better of his abductors [“Cornelius and Alphonse“, Season 2]. In one episode, [“Séance/The Treasure“, Season 2] a pony trailed Tattoo back to the main house, and in the end, Roarke bought the animal for Tattoo; but the pony was never seen again afterward. Maybe Tattoo decided it was quicker to get around the island in his little car!
At the end of Season 6, Tattoo left Fantasy Island, and strangely enough, no one seemed to miss him. Unfortunately, his absence was never explained in the series, leaving fans to wonder where he’d gone and at least one (yours truly) to write a story tying up that conspicuous loose end! One thing was certain—he was very much missed during Season 7. Whether it was his overt appreciation of the native girls, his weekly alert from the main house’s bell tower that “the plane! the plane!” was coming in for a landing, his exasperating but funny antics, or just his cheerful presence providing contrast to Roarke’s courtly elegance, Tattoo gave the island, and the series, a little extra intangible something that nobody else could quite duplicate. The place just wasn’t the same without him.