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Farewell, Mr. Roarke. Goodbye, Khan



Khan No more waves goodbye from Mr. Roarke. Forget any final curse from Khan. No last pitch for the "soft Corinthian leather." Ricardo Montalban has passed away.

The Mexican-born actor, who first delighted audiences in MGM musicals in the 1940s and later captured the attention of sci-fi and fantasy fans in the '70s and '80s, died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88.

WHAT'S HIS NAME?: Born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán Merino, Hollywood execs originally wanted to shorten his name to Ricky Martin (nah, it'd never work). Despite his Latin heritage, he was often cast as an Asian or American Indian in early roles.

MEET KHAN: In 1969, Montalban was cast as the "Khan Noonien Singh," a genetically conceived tyrant banished to an uninhabited planet, in the original Star Trek TV series. His reprisal of the role for the 1982 movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is considered by many critics to be one of the top 10 movie villains of all time. [See the trailer]

HE'S INTO LEATHER: Say it with us ... the Chrysler Cordoba has "soft Corinthian leather." Montalban's TV spots in the mid-70s for the Chrysler Cordoba are often parodied and even more often misquoted. (It's not "fine" ... it's "soft.") [Watch it here]

HE'S YOUR HOST: He'll always be "Mr. Roarke" -- no first name? -- on ABC's Fantasy Island from 1978 to 1984. Was he immortal, an illusionist or just a magician? For $50,000, guests to his exclusive island could decide for themselves. [Show intro]

AND HE WAS...: There were so many more notable appearances, including roles in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Cannonball Run II, Naked Gun, and most recently the "Grandfather" in the Spy Kids movie franchise.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:42pm]


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