January 15, 2009

Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican actor best known as Mr. Roarke on the TV show Fantasy Island, has died at the ripe old age of 88.

Although his most famous role was the genteel, white-suited overseer of Fantasy Island, Montalban had more than 160 roles in television and film, as well as being a memorable spokesman for Chrysler automobiles.

Of course, I was never into Fantasy Island, nor was I particularly interested in "soft Corinthian leather" at the tender age of four. For me, Montalban's defining role was Khan Noonien Singh, Kirk's wonderfully relentless, Moby Dick-citing nemesis in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Also in my library is a set of Planet of the Apes movies; he played circus owner Armando in the third and fourth.

Montalban was predeceased by his wife of 63 years (!), Georgiana Young de Montalban, in 2007. How many Hollywood figures can be said to be married to one woman, let alone for the equivalent of an entire lifetime? Rest in peace, Mr. Montalban.