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Movie Mom

Tribute: Ricardo Montalban

posted by Nell Minow

Mexican-born leading man Ricardo Montalban died this morning at age 88. He may be best remembered now for his commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba (with the “rich Corinthian leather) and for Maxwell House coffee, but that is because even at the end of his career, his warm, inviting voice was unforgettable.

Montalban had a remarkable and varied career that included musicals (“On an Island With You”), silly comedy (The Naked Gun – From the Files of Police Squad!), drama , family movies (Spy Kids 2 – The Island of Lost Dreams and The Ant Bully), television (Fantasy Island), and of course the title role in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

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Back in the days when Hollywood figured that any non-Anglo-Saxon ethnic group could substitute for any other, Montalban was cast as a Japanese actor in Sayonara and a Native American in movies like “Across the Wide Missouri” and on television Westerns like “Bonanza.” He performed these roles with dignity and grace. He was one of the last of the great leading men of the 1940’s-70’s and we are lucky to have so many of his magnificent performances to watch again.

  • Anonymous

    Ricardo Montalban will be missed! He portrayed such a caring and brave grandfather in the Spy Kids movies! (Definitely worth seeing, if your kids like fantasy and are not too little for suspense and action). Mr. Montalban is appreciated for appearing in family friendly films. Condolences and God’s comfort to his own family!

  • jestrfyl

    Mr Montalban brought an air of class and a sense of elegance even to the weirdest roles. He made Khan more than another mere space villain – he added the edge of craziness and megalomania that made the role. And who would not want to shake hands with Mr Rourke – who was not only the greatest host in the world, I suspect he may have known Dumbledore and Merlin at one time or another – perhaps Fantasy Island hosted the Wizengamot a couple of times. He was graceful even in comedy roles and included a whimsical style even in his more debonair characters. I liked him and admired the way he made the roles his own without sacrificing the writers’ intent and the producers’ visionI expect he may be right next to St
    Peter welcoming the next arrivals to – well, whatever you choose to call it.

  • Your Name

    How do you figure that Ricardo Montalban is non-white? His parents were Spaniards. He was of European descent.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    You’re right — I meant non-Anglo-Saxon. I’ll amend it. Thanks so much.

  • http://www.coffeerama.com coffee

    Dos Equis should have hired Ricardo Montalban to do a few ads for them, he could have done their “most interesting man in the world” bit perfectly (he has a Spanish accent too)

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Great idea, coffee! If only!

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