This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ricardo Montalban, 1920-2009, R.I.P.

Wow, deja vu.

I began yesterday's tribute to Patrick McGoohan by saying, "Just yesterday, I read a rather amusing anecdote concerning Patrick McGoohan on Mark Evanier's NewsFromME blog," and then went on to say that only one day later, Mr. McGoohan died... a sad fact which I discovered on Mr. Evanier's blog as well.

This probably isn't the best time or place to plug someone or something, but NewsFromME is a blog which I visit virtually every day (and usually several times, at that), barring extreme circumstances. (The capitalization I use is of my own design, as Mark himself writes it as either "news from me" or "NEWS from me," but the "me" in question is actually a reference to "M.E.," as in "Mark Evanier," and... oh, never mind!!!) He discusses pretty much every aspect of show business... including politics. I cannot recommend his blog highly enough.

Anyway, after learning of Patrick McGoohan's death, I wrote my own post about it and included a link to the story on ME's site... and one of my commenters must have followed that link, because she soon informed me of Ricardo Montalban's death, which was written about on NewsFromME! (I hadn't seen it yet.)

Hm. This really isn't anywhere near as complicated as I'm making it sound! It must be the lateness of the hour as I write this.

So, Mark Evanier told a great story about Ricardo Montalban, and I'm linking directly to that for the same reason that I shilled for Mark's site earlier.

As far as my own anecdotes about Mr. Montalban? Nothing much really, except to say that I was a longtime fan...

I enjoyed his first movie role, in MGM's 1947 flick, Fiesta, where Esther Williams was cast as his sister!

I remember his mid-1970s commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba: "I know what I like in a car," he'd begin. My friends would parody that, imitating his accent to the best of their ability, usually adding something frivolous in order to change it to "I know what I like in a car: The chiquita in the back seat!" or the like.

Of course, I knew of his lengthy stint as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island, and his two portrayals of Khan in the original Star Trek series and the second Trek feature film. Everybody knows about those.

And, strangely enough... I recall being told years ago that comedian Corbett Monica was his brother! (Presumably, Monica was the one who had changed his name from something more Mexican-sounding.)

It wasn't until yesterday that I discovered that Corbett Monica was not Mr. Montalban's brother. Oops. Somebody lied to me.

Anyway, various stories about Ricardo Montalban have upheld the idea that the man was -- to use a term I find myself using constantly in these tributes -- a "class act."

And that's the biggest pity. Not just that so many stars are dying, but that they're of a breed that we seem to see in decreasing numbers among those up and coming in the entertainment fields.

Thanks for your time.


  1. Very well done David( 'course,you already know that ). You even remembered the Chrysler ads! Not many would remember those.

  2. Well done, indeed!
    1) Awhile ago, I looked up that commercial on You Tube, and yep! It's there. It's somehow satisfying to watch.
    2) I've been madly googling Ricardo. Who is Corbett Monica? I'll google him next. Ricardo's brother was also an actor (including appearing as "El Exigente" in a coffee commercial?!)--which you probably already known, given your research-hound instincts.
    3) Looks like Ricardo was a big star in Mexico, where he was born. I'm always interested in people who have a whole other career--in films in another country or in a different line of work entirely--before they hit it big in Hollywood.
    4) Very cool guy. I will miss him.

  3. Sparkle:

    2: "I've been madly googling Ricardo." You shameless hussy, you!

    2 (continued): Corbett Monica was an extremely inoffensive comedian who was the opening act for a lot of singers -- like Sinatra -- during his career. He was on Joey Bishop's sitcom in the mid-1960s, and became a "sidekick's sidekick" to the Rat Pack. (By the way, after the sitcom, Bishop tried a late night talk show like Carson's, and his "Ed McMahon" was a guy named Regis Philbin... but I assume you're too young to recall that.)

    2 (cuz I love the number!): I found out about Ricardo's older -- much older, like 17 years, IIRC -- brother last night! I do tend to research, unlike the guy SubTorp told me about in a private email, who wrote an AP obit without even mentioning Montalban's role as Khan!

    3: That reminds me of Julio Iglesias. Willie Nelson heard the guy, and decided to do the duet, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before," which he figured would make this Julio guy a star. Willie didn't know that Julio was already a huge success all over the world by then... just not in America.

  4. 2) If I were a comedian, it would really depress me to be known as "an extremely inoffensive comedian." Somehow, it's like the faintest praise possible...

  5. Maybe so, but it kept him working for over thirty years, because singers he toured with knew he was "safe."

    Can you see a singer like PatBoone using a guy like Sam Kinison for his opening act?

  6. Oh man, that's sad. I remember that Cordoba ad... hadn't thought of it since [we won't mention the year HA!] but this brought it all back.

    As for inoffensive comedians... just the other night one of them made me spew hot tea all over myself and out my nose. :( (hey, how offensive is it to talk about the concept of bedtime-pizza-delivery so you can eat your pizza as you nod off? apparently something this guy enjoys...) *ahem* so... anyway... RIP Ricarrrdo


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