Closing Credits: Ricardo Montalban
Ricardo Montalban has died at home yesterday aged eighty-eight. He was undoubtedly best known for his role in the television series Fantasy Island, and he had a great career on television winning an Emmy for his role in How the West Was Won, but he also leaves some mammoth moments in film.
Montalban is instantly recognisable on screen, even off screen with that rich and luxurious voice of his, and when he walked into the frame his suave and confidence oozing manner took over and he could steal the screen just as any other Hollywood icon could.
His career began in film, and began well because the screen and the audience really liked him. According to The Hollywood Reporter his first leading role in Fiesta in 1947 won him some distinction, and again in Battleground in 1949.
While his looks won him roles of varying race – from American Indian to Japanese would you believe it – his style and suave intensity won him romantic leads. However during the sixties he turned to television and appeared in many shows from Dr. Kildare to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and continued to appear in television in shows such as Dynasty, with his last credit being in the superb Family Guy.
Television wise though, for many, it was Fantasy Island that he remains most remembered for. That show was a staple of my growing up and each week showed a new bunch of dreamers arriving on the island to receive their ultimate experience. Somehow, through strange turns of events led by the mysterious Mr. Roarke, events would magically come together to show the visitors that what the really sought in life was much simpler and often right before their eyes. A great show.
However let's leave the history recap to THR, for it's here we want to remember his great film roles, and there's one that leaps to mind is there not? Khan.
That role began in a television episode of Star Trek in 1967, called Space Seed, but was picked up again in the second Star Trek film, undoubtedly one of the best, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. He was stunningly good in that film, and not just for the hair and the perfect chest, but for the performance he gave which really defined the performance required for a Star Trek bad guy, something that I remember being matched by Christopher Plummer in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
There were other memorable roles for me though, and they included Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, The Train Robbers, Wonder Woman, Cannonball Run II and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!.
However it was as Khan that most film fans will remember him.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.