Thursday, January 15, 2009

RIP : Ricardo Montalban

Sad news came yesterday, as Hollywood legend Ricardo Montalban passed away at the age of 88.

Montalban was signed to a contract at MGM in the 1940s following years of working in film in Mexico. He would carve out a stereotypical niche for himself as the Latin Lover, even while working to improve conditions and opportunities for Latinos. He appeared in numerous roles, notably opposite Esther Williams.

When MGM dropped his contract in 1953, he would go to Broadway, appearing in Don Juan in Hell and earning a Tony nomination for Jamaica. He would continue to appear in occasional films, but he also turned to television. In 1967, he made a memorable appearance as the villainous Khan Noonien Singh in the second season of Star Trek.

In the 1970s, he gained his greatest fame as the mysterious Mr. Roarke, the man in charge of Fantasy Island. The series was a huge hit, running from 1978 to 1984. During this period, he also had his greatest role on film, reprising his role of Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

In later years, he returned to film, even though he was confined to a wheelchair. He continued to work for Latino causes until his death.

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