Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Say it ain't so, Tattoo!

The star of one of my favorite childhood tv shows has died today. Ricardo Montalban, better known to me as "Mr. Roarke" from Fantasy Island passed away today at the age of 88. I absolutely loved that show, and I don't think I ever missed an episode. He always appeared so elegant and charming, and how I wanted so desperately to take one of those fantasy weekend trips that he made possible for the visitors to his island. Of course, I was only a child and didn't realize that it was fake, that in real life most grown ups can't afford $30K vacations. But it sure would be nice!
It wasn't until much later that I found out that Mr. Montalban had been acting for many years and that he was one of the first Hispanic actors to be successful in radio, films and tv. He worked with some of the finest actors of his generation, from Esther Williams to Lana Turner, and James Stewart, Shirley McClain, and Mel Blanc. He's even worked with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Lena Horne on Broadway. He's had a very long career from the 50's up until as recently as this year. Granted most of his work lately has been voice over work, due to health concerns, but it's that voice that's so familiar to us.
He never got into the "Hollywood lifestyle" as he was married to the love of his life for more than 50 yrs, a rarity these days. He retained his Mexican citizenship and never even applied for US citizenship. He was a deeply religious man, saying his faith was the most important thing in his life. We have lost not only a true talent, but an incredible, honorable, human being.

Rest in peace, Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino.


Art said...

He had a long and distinguished career. Fantasy Island was probably the lowest point (with the possible exception of those horrid Chrysler commercials).

What I find interesting is that no article I have read thus far has mentioned the most memorable TV AND movie role he had - Khan Noonien Singh. This is a role voted as one of the top ten greatest film villains of ALL TIME by the Online Film Critics Society.

And all anyone wants to talk about is freakin' Mr. Roarke!

Vicki said...

He was great as Khan!!!

Very nice tribute, Stacie. I always loved to hear him speak, even in those "horrid Chrysler commercials!" My baby brother used to get so angry with us for calling him "Ricardo Montalban" when we would tease him (his name is Richard).

So, I guess Mr. Roarke and Tattoo are together again?

butterflygirl said...

Those kind of vacations on Fantasy Island definitely would have been nice, especially right now as it is -30 here.

jennifer said...

You know Stace, if it weren't for bloggers who actually put news on their blogs, I wouldn't know anything that is going on. I hadn't heard of Montalban passing until tonight while blog reading.

Fastasy Island was one of my favorite shows growing up. He had that awesome accent and mysterious inflection to his voice. Such a good entertainer.