Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ricardo Montalbán Dies at 88

Mention the name Ricardo Montalbán to anyone who is old enough to remember the 1970s, and that person may recall his role as Mr. Roarke, who made his guests' fantasies come true in the TV series "Fantasy Island" — or his role as Khan Noonien Singh in both the original "Star Trek" TV series and the 1982 film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."

But when I think of Montalbán, I always think of the TV commercials he did for the luxury car Chrysler Cordoba, in which he spoke admiringly, in his Spanish accent, of the "soft Corinthian leather" that was used for its interior.

Chrysler stopped producing the Cordoba in 1983.

And Montalbán passed away today at the age of 88.

He made nearly three dozen films and appeared on more than 30 TV shows. His character on "Fantasy Island" became a cultural icon, but many people forget that he appeared in more episodes of the TV series "The Colbys" in the mid-1980s. And he made guest appearances on such programs as "Gunsmoke," "Wagon Train," "Ben Casey," "Dr. Kildare," "Ironside," "Here's Lucy," "Police Story" and "Murder, She Wrote."