Ricardo Montalban, one the classiest actors in Hollywood history, known by millions as the charming and enigmatic Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island, but beloved by generations of geeks as Khan Noonian Singh the greatest Star Trek villain of all time has passed away.
He started out in Hollywood in the 1940s as one of the few Hispanic actors working in the industry. And in the tradition of old-school miscasting, was often cast as Asian characters. He also toiled playing Latin lovers in musicals, American Indians in westerns, and any other ethnicity the studios needed, though he did break the mold to play a Boston cop in the film noir Mystery Street. He also worked a lot in television, beginning his spot as a sci-fi icon with a guest spot on a then struggling TV show called Star Trek as a genetically engineered super-dictator from the anarchic future of the 1990s.
He reappeared as that villain in the film Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, putting him in the rare position of having a hit movie, and a hit TV show (Fantasy Island) at the same time. And just to illustrate his presence as an actor, the film is always viewed as a battle between Khan and Kirk, yet he and Shatner are never in the same scene, they only speak via monitors and communicators. Any other actor would leave the audience feeling cheated that there wasn't a face to face scene between him and Shatner, but you don't with Montalban, because he makes the character fill every scene he's in, even when he's just a voice on a speaker, or a face on a screen.
You'd be hard pressed to find a modern actor that could pull that off.
And he kept working for the love of it, even when ill health confined him to a wheelchair.
He was predeceased by Georgiana Young his wife of 63 years.
First Patrick McGoohan, now Ricardo Montalban.
From now on, this time will be called Black Wednesday by sci-fi/fantasy fans the world over.
Rest in Peace Ricardo. You were always a class act.