Saturday, January 17, 2009

Adios Ricardo

Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican-born actor who became a star in splashy MGM musicals and later became an icon as the wish-fulfilling Mr. Roarke in TV’s “Fantasy Island,” died Wednesday morning at his home, his family said. He was 88.

“He was so gracious, and Aaron was always humbled by Ricardo’s gratitude for ’Fantasy Island,” said Candy Spelling, wife of the late Aaron Spelling, who created the show. “I miss him already, and wish his family well.”

Montalban had been a star in Mexican movies when MGM brought him to Hollywood in 1946. He was cast in the leading role opposite Esther Williams in “Fiesta,” and starred again with the swimming beauty in “On an Island with You” and “Neptune’s Daughter.”

He appeared as villains in two hits of the 1980s: “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” and — in line with his always-apparent sense of humor about himself — the farcical “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad.”

Montalban helped found the ALMA Awards, which honor and encourage fair portrayals of Latinos in entertainment. In 1970, he also organized fellow Latino actors into an organization called Nosotros (“We”), and he became the first president. Their aim: to improve the image of Spanish-speaking Americans on the screen; to assure that Latin-American actors were not discriminated against; to stimulate Latino actors to study their profession.

Montalban was an Emmy and SAG Award winner, Tony Award nominee, and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Despite being confined to a wheelchair and suffering from severe physical pain since a surgery in 1993, he continued to accept roles in movies such as "Spy Kids" and various voice over work for shows like "Dora the Explorer" and "Family Guy".

I personally have always admired and been captivated by the performances of Ricardo Montalban. I wish his family peace and I am happy to know that Ricardo is finally at peace and no longer in pain.

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