Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Ricardo Montalban, the coolest Mexican cat to ever don a white suit in the tropics, passed away today in Los Angeles at the ripe old age of 88.

Ricardo Montalban on "Fantasy Island"

And while he was a pioneering champion of Latino’s everywhere…onstage, onscreen and even behind-the-scenes…Ricardo Montalban was also one hell of an actor. With over one-hundred-and-fifty screen credits to his name, that dude worked non-stop. But there are two roles that, for me at least, made Montalban a straight-up bad-ass.

The first was Montalban’s iconic Mr. Roarke on “Fantasy Island”. I remember the pilot episode of that show scaring the shit out of me…I don’t know why, but there was something really f-ing creepy to me about that island. And if I remember correctly, Mr. Roarke was much more dark and menacing in the early seasons than he was later on. Seriously scary shit…

Childhood nightmares aside, however, the role that will forever endear Ricardo Montlban to me is his big, rip-roaring performance as the maniacal Kahn in “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn”. My Dad was a huge fan of those movies and we watched them many times (except for the sucky first one…yikes) but our favorite to this day is “Kahn”.

Ricardo Montalban as Kahn #2!

Ricardo Montalban as Kahn!

I know it’s lavish praise, but in my mind, Montalban’s villainous turn as Kahn Noonien Singh ranks up there with Darth Vader, Rutger Hauer from “Blade Runner” and maybe the Alien from the “Alien” movies as one of the best sci-fi villains of all time. Seriously, this dude kicked Kirk and company’s ass in that movie! And he was Mexican to boot! Way to go, hombe…way to go!

So, for Kahn, Roarke, and every other suave-ass thing you did in a lifetime of sauve…RIP, amigo. You will be missed…

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)

  1. popculturenerd

    This is sad, he was cool. But I have to say, Tattoo creeped me out more than Mr. Roarke ever did.

  2. It’s funny that the guy has been a working actor since the 1940s, and like you, the two things I can name off the top of my head that he was in was Fantasy Island and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. (Well, and the “Corinthian Leather” car commercials he did).

    Poor Ricardo Montalban. No one will truly remember the nearly 40 years of work he did before those two seminal roles.

    Rest in peace RM!

  3. Ricardo Montalban epitomized the suave host image; i just recently found out he starred in the Wrath of Khan too, crazy

  4. Oh yeah, and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Montalban as Kahn, baby. He rocks that crazy gray space mullet hard!

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