Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tribute to an "Old Friend"

Of course, I never knew Ricardo Montalban. It seemed fitting to name this post that title because after seeing Star Trek II my best friend at the time and I used to refer to each other in the same way Kirk and Khan did. That sort of spiteful tone on a seemingly cheerful title, "Old Friend", was fun to mimic. Such was the impact the actor Ricardo Montalban had on my life, a suave commanding presence capable of portraying villains and heroes alike. A great actor who passed away today at age 88.

Montalban first became known to me through Fantasy Island, his Mr Rourke was a sort of benign omniscient character of relaxed elegance. His performance made the character interesting as I can't recall much background or personality traits about Rourke, just that he was a well heeled man of mystery. Although I hadn't realized it, I had seen Montalban before as Khan in the original Star Trek. I just didn't know it was him. But by the time his Wrath had been put out, I knew full well what he meant to Star Trek.

Montalban became William Shatner's best foil, a cool smooth intellect bent on vengeance versus an emotional firehouse. Their battle formed the core of one of my favorite movies of all time. Montalban took the Moby Dick heavy monologues he was given and infused them with the obsessive bitterness needed to make it truly memorable. That whole "I'll chase him round the outer nebula and round the Antares maelstrom and round perdition's flames before I give him up!" part is still fresh in my memory 27 years later.

Even after Khan, Montalban proved he could do comedy as well. His appearance in The Naked Gun was fantastic. His career continued and was consistently good when I would see him appear in movies or tv here or there. He even made a voice appearance on Family Guy last year. While he has had a long and esteemed career, there's no doubt that his performances in the late 70's and 80's had the most impact on me-even if it was just entertainment. So with sadness I say thank you for years of great entertainment Ricardo Montalban.


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

sigh... a sad passing. You summed up my feelings quite well, Mr. Mike, thank you.

Jeannie said...

I must thank you too. His death is a great loss to us all and you did a nice job of pointing that out.

pamwax said...

Thanks Mike. I grew up watching him and it is sad news.

Mr. Mike said...

Very sad to see Montalban go. I'll probably watch The Naked Gun or Star Trek II soon.