January 14th, 2009

Ricardo Montalban

Noooooooooooooooo! Not my beautiful Ricardo!!

I really thought Ricardo Montalban was indestructible. I'm sure many people agreed! R.I.P. Mr. Montalban, a true gentleman.

Mr. Montalban's death cuts straight across my flist -- Montalban was the recognizable English-language voice for Claudius in a dubbed version of Hamlet originally filmed for German television that was given the MST: 3K treatment.

Montalban was perhaps best known for his TV work, for his Chrysler Cordoba commercials famously extolling the "rich, Corinthian leather" and his portrayal of Khan on the original "Star Trek" TV series -- plus his bravura performance in his return to the role in the second "Star Trek" film, which was subtitled "The Wrath of Khan" -- and of course Mr. Roarke in "Fantasy Island." One role he played well -- well, frankly he played all his roles well, whether they deserved it or not -- but which has probably been forgotten was the smooth, mysterious villian in the 1974 made-for-TV "Wonder Woman" movie which starred Cathy Lee Crosby. I remember watching it on TV back then and I think it served as my introduction to Montalban. The movie bugged me because it got everything wrong about Wonder Woman -- the outfit was wrong, and why was the famously brunette Wonder Woman being played by a blonde?? -- but once the camera pulled back and revealed Ricardo Montalban, I knew that I was looking at a real star, someone with grace and presence. As I would see him in other roles through the years and in some of his earlier films, I would never think anything different.