Friday, January 14, 2011

Remembering... Ricardo Montalban

By the time he sashayed onto the immaculate lawn overlooking the float-plane launch on Fantasy Island, Ricardo Montalbán had already had a long career as a B-movie himbo in which he frequently played the quintessential gigolo with a swarthy hirsuteness and a tan like 'soft Corinthian leather'... In short, exactly the kind of man who is always appreciated here at the Pop Culture Institute.

PhotobucketSo while playing Mr. Roarke may have given Montalbán a kind of pop immortality, it was his performance as Khan Noonien Singh in both a 1967 episode of Star Trek (entitled Space Seed) and the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that best demonstrated his range, even though he'd previously played a samurai (in Sayonara), and an Indian in Westerns - in addition to the more expected bullfighters, flamenco dancers, and calypso singers.

In a movie career spanning seven decades, Montalbán did it all, but preserving his integrity seems to have been uppermost on his mind, despite the silliness inherent in acting (and the extreme silliness inherent in acting for minorities); in 1970 he co-founded the Nosotros Foundation (with Richard Hernandez, Val de Vargas, Rudolfo Hoyos Jr., Carlos Rivas, Tony de Marco, and Henry Darrow) in order to promote more positive portrayals of Mexicans in Hollywood. Although he claims the political stance cost him work, it garnered him a great deal of respect; to this day the Nosotros American Latino Film Festival (NALFF) is held annually at the Ricardo Montalbán Theater in Los Angeles.

He died on this day in 2009 at his home in Los Angeles of an undisclosed cause, predeceased by his wife Georgiana Young; he was 88.
share on: facebook

No comments: