Ricardo Montalban Dies
The Wrath Of Khan star was 88
Following the sad news of the death of The Prisoner star Patrick McGoohan comes word that Ricardo Montalban – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’s titular villain – has passed away at the age of 88.
The Mexican-born actor’s cause of death has not yet been announced.
Born in Mexico City in 1920, Montalban was one of the first Hispanic actors to make a name for himself in Hollywood – despite this, and a string of Latin lover roles in the 40s and 50s, he also played a number of Japanese-born characters in his early career, including Nakamura in the Oscar-winning Sayonara.
A smooth-talking, handsome man with a penchant for singing and dancing, Montalban wound up in a number of musicals in the 1950s and 1960s, including The Singing Nun, alongside Debbie Reynolds.
The 60s also saw him create the role of the villainous, would-be despot Khan Noonien Singh in an episode of Star Trek named Space Seed, which ended with Khan being banished to a planet called Ceti Alpha V.
Montalban must have thought that was the end of that, but in 1982 he found himself, incredibly, reprising the role of Khan for the second Star Trek film, in which he escapes from Ceti Alpha V and wreaks havoc on Captain Kirk and the Enterprise crew. Montalban, helped by a striking blond wig and impressive muscles for a guy who was then in his Sixties, turned in an instantly iconic performance and his Khan remains one of the greatest villains in sci-fi history.
It wasn’t the only villain in Montalban’s storied career – in 1988, he somehow managed to keep a straight face while playing the evil Vincent Ludwig in the brilliant The Naked Gun – but for the most part, Montalban was drawn to heroes, such as the kindly Mr. Roarke in the long-running TV show, Fantasy Island.
In 1993, a long-gestating spinal injury flared up irrevocably, forcing Montalban into a wheelchair. Despite this, he continued to work, showing up in the final two chapters of Robert Rodriguez’ Spy Kids trilogy as the Cortez family’s Grandfather. His last movie role was as the voice of the Head Of Council in 2006’s animation, The Ant Bully.
Montalban – who was named a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory The Great by the Vatican in 1998 – is survived by four children. His wife, Georgiana Young de Montalban, died in 2007 after 63 years of marriage.