Best Known For
Actor Ricardo Montalban is best known for playing Mr. Roarke on television's Fantasy Island—the role that launched him into true stardom.
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His turn as the mysterious Mr. Rourke brought him international fame. Fantasy Island's Mr. Rourke and his sidekick, Tattoo, played by Herve Villechaize, both became popular culture icons. The show, created by Aaron Spelling, ran from 1977 to '84.
In 1982, Montalban revived a character from his television past. He reprised his role of Khan, Captain Kirk's nemesis,
in a movie entitled The Wrath of Khan. Montalban earned raves for his performance. Throughout the late 1980s and '90s, Montalban's career slowed, though he appeared periodically on television and in feature films. He also became noted as pitchman for Chrysler Cordoba, with his lilting praise for the car's "rich Corinthian leather." His autobiography, Reflections: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in 1980.
In his later years, Montalban worked on few projects. He appeared in Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). He also lent his rich, distinctive voice to such animated projects as Dora the Explorer and The Ant Bully.
Ricardo Montalban died on January 14, 2009, at the age of 88, at his home in Los Angeles. He was survived by four children from his marriage to model and actress Georgiana Young, the younger sister of Loretta Young. He and Georgiana, both devoted Roman Catholics, enjoyed one of Hollywood's longest-lasting marriages. They were together from 1944 until Young's death in 2007.
In addition to acting, Montalban was an activist who sought to improve the portrayal of Latinos in film and on TV. In 1970, he helped found Nosotros, a Latino arts advocacy organization. Luis Reyes, author of Hispanics in Hollywood, described part of Montalban's legacy to the Los Angeles Times: "He paved the way for being outspoken about the images and roles that Latinos were playing in movies."
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