In a late 1994 interview with POZ Magazine, after acknowledging that he was gay, that he had AIDS, Villard said he counted on his friends, including the man he referred to as his "genius whiz kid husband," Scott Chambliss, a Los Angeles-based production designer on movies. "I asked him at the beginning, 'Are you sure you want to get into this because I have this to deal with and you don't?' He's always been right there. He's a wise old soul and I have a swarm of angels at any given time."
Villard was born in Waipahu, Hawaii and grew up in Spencerport, New York. He attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, before moving to New York City to attend the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the early 1970s. In 1980 Villard moved to Los Angeles and soon started landing roles on television and in movies. He also continued performing on stage until the end of his career.
Villard appeared throughout his career on television, in feature films, and on stage around the country. He was featured in situation comedies, episodic TV series, and had leading roles in lower and mid-range budgeted features. At the peak of his career Villard was given featured supporting roles in big-budget studio fare, such as Clint Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge, and My Girl (with Dan Aykroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis). One of his final roles was on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Toward the end of his life, Villard became one of the few actors in Hollywood in the early 1990s who chose to be open about his homosexuality, and the challenge of living with HIV and AIDS.
In February 1994, Villard made an unprecedented appearance on Entertainment Tonight, acknowledging to "...more than 13 million viewers that he was gay, that he had AIDS, and that he needed some help."
According to a POZ magazine profile in December of that year Villard said, "An awful lot of people suddenly wouldn't let me in the door for auditions. I started speaking a couple of months ago about living with AIDS and having hope." he said. "It feels a little more useful than things (I've done) in the past." He went on to explain that since his appearance on E.T., a whole other group of people had come forward to welcome him.
Bill Melamed, Villard's manager added: "I'm particularly proud of him. The reality is, acting is a lousy business... He made a decision that was courageous in any walk of life, but it doesn't surprise me. He has one of the most open spirits."
On November 14, 1994, Villard died of AIDS related pneumonia. He was survived by his parents, Ron and Diane Villard, twin brothers Timothy and Terry, sister Susan, and his partner Scott Chambliss.
As a tribute to him, a non-profit foundation was created by his partner Chambliss, close friend Karen Kaye, and his friend and chiropractor Cheryl Revkin. The Tom Villard Foundation was a Silver Lake community-based effort which engaged local businesses to provide free goods and services for community members living with AIDS. The beneficiaries were the client base of the former Silver Lake AIDS support organization, Being Alive. The Tom Villard Foundation no longer exists; Being Alive is now headquartered in West Hollywood.
Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys And Same-Sex Desire in Film And Television by Jeffery P. Dennis
Hardcover: 238 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (June 6, 2006)
Amazon: Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys And Same-Sex Desire in Film And Television
Why did Fonzie hang around with all those high school boys?
Is the overwhelming boy-meets-girl content of popular teen movies, music, books, and TV just a cover for an undercurrent of same-sex desire? From the 1950s to the present, popular culture has involved teenage boys falling for, longing over, dreaming about, singing to, and fighting over, teenage girls. But Queering Teen Culture analyzes more than 200 movies and TV shows to uncover who Frankie Avalon’s character was really in love with in those beach movies and why Leif Garrett became a teen idol in the 1970s.
In Top 40 songs, teen magazines, movies, TV soap operas and sitcoms, teenagers are defined by their pubescent “discovery” of the opposite sex, universally and without exception. Queering Teen Culture looks beyond the litany to find out when adults became so insistent about teenage sexual desire—and why—and finds evidence of same-sex desire, romantic interactions, and identities that, according to the dominant ideology, do not and cannot exist. This provocative book examines the careers of male performers whose teenage roles made them famous (including Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, Fabian, and James Darren) and discusses examples of lesbian desire (including I Love Lucy and Laverne and Shirley).
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