Across the Wide Missouri
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1 item from 2009

Actor Ricardo Montalban Dies at 88

14 January 2009 2:28 PM, PST | IMDb News

Ricardo Montalban, the dashing Mexican actor who gained fame for two iconic television roles -- that of the vengeful Khan in Star Trek and the mysterious Mr. Roark in Fantasy Island -- died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles; he was 88. No cause of death was given, though it was known that Montalban had suffered from complications after undergoing 9 1/2 hours of spinal surgery in 1993 to alleviate an injury he suffered in 1951 while filming the western Across the Wide Missouri. The surgery, however, did not resolve his medical problems, and he found himself primarily confined to a wheelchair. A career in Mexican films led to Hollywood and an MGM contract in 1946, and he was cast in a number of Esther Williams films (his American feature debut was in 1946's Fiesta opposite the swimming star) as well as westerns and dramas opposite such stars as Lana Turner and Jane Powell.

After leaving MGM in the mid-fifties, Montalban appeared on numerous television shows, though it was his singular turn as the villainous Khan Noonien Singh, one of a group of genetically engineered "supermen" in the "Space Seed" episode of Star Trek for which he became most remembered, and he reprised that role in the 1982 box office hit Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. By the time that film was released, Montalban had also become famous to a new generation of television viewers as the enigmatic Mr. Rourke, the host of the ABC Saturday night staple Fantasy Island (1978-1984), where he would preside over cautionary tales of those who wished to have their most desired fantasies fulfilled. (Around the same time, Montalban did a number of commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba, where his exhortations of the cars "rich Corinthian leather" would become an affectionate pop culture reference.)

After his role as Khan, Montalban continued to appear in television (most notably on the Dynasty spin-off The Colbys) and in film (as the villain of the comedy The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!) until his surgery curtailed his acting career. Montalban continued to work, however, appearing in all three of the Spy Kids films and doing voice work for the television shows Kim Possible and Family Guy. Montalban's wife, Georgiana Young (the younger sister of actress Loretta Young) died in 2007; the two had been married since 1944 and had four children. »

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