Ricardo Montalban, 88, Passes Away

by | January 14, 2009 at 5:39 PM | Obituaries

Tom Rose
Fancast.com

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Ricardo Montalban, best known for his role as Mr. Roarke on the popular ’70s television series “Fantasy Island” has died at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88.

Born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban Merino in Mexico City in 1920, Montalban graced the little screen with his melodic, sonorous Spanish accent on numerous television shows including “Bonanza,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Hawaii Five-O.”

But it was his role as Mr. Roarke, caretaker for Fantasy Island, and a mysterious man with the power to make every island visitor’s dream come true, that earned him an everlasting place in America’s heart.


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Star Trek fans will claim, however, that Montalban is memorialized in their minds as the genetically enhanced supervillain Khan Noonien Singh from the TV series. The part was so memorable it was reintroduced in the 1982 film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” to great critical and audience acclaim.

To show the range Montalban displayed, other fans will remember him mainly as the Chrysler spokesman touting the Cordoba’s “soft Corinthian leather” interior. The catchphrase became a staple for stand-up comics and late night talk show monologues for years afterwards.

The distinguished, always elegant actor won an Emmy Award in 1978 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1993.

Ricardo Montalban’s wife of 63 years, Georgiana Young, died in 2007. He is survived by four children.