Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalban (1920 - 2009)

More sad news today. Another genre icon is gone. Ricardo Montalban has passed away at the age of 88.

Star Trek fans will forever remember Montalban as Khan, the genetically-engineered super man of the first season episode "Space Seed." That villainous role was famously reprised by Mr. Montalban in 1982's blockbuster, The Wrath of Khan -- essentially a franchise-saving performance.

Planet of the Apes fans also have cause to mourn. Montalban memorably portrayed the kindly circus owner Armando in 1971's Escape from the Planet of the Apes and its direct sequel, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). Armando was a parent for Caesar, the talking ape, and as such, taught the revolutionary leader...humanity.

Montalban was a charismatic, imposing, larger than life figure. These qualities the actor put to persistent good use as the mysterious Mr. Roarke for forty-five episodes of the cult series Fantasy Island (1978-1984).

Montalban's long Hollywood career saw him menace a slew of protagonists from Captain Kirk to Diana Prince (Wonder Woman [1974]) to the Mission Impossible team (1967's "Snowball in Hell"), to the Men from U.N.C.L.E (1964's "The Dove Affair" and 1966's "King of Diamonds Affair.")

Outside science fiction and horror, Montalban even found time to menace Leslie Nielsen in 1988's comedy hit, The Naked Gun.

Montalban's acting career endured an amazing fifty-six years...a testament to his talent. We've lost a giant here. My deepest condolences -- and my respects -- go out to the Montalban family.


  1. Anonymous9:23 AM

    I believe you may wish to check the number of performances that Mr. Montalban gave as Roarke in Fantasy Island. I clearly recall many, many more episodes than the paltry 45 you cite (and the IMDB cites). The Wikipedia states there were 158 episodes and a pilot. I can't claim to know if this is true, but it certainly matches closer to the episodes I saw over the years as I babysat and watched this wonderfully silly old show. RIP, Mr. Montalban

  2. Ricardo Montalban must have been a contender for Lady's Man of the year at least a few times during his lifetime