Entertainment Earth



"Smiles, everyone, smiles!"

- as Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island (1977–1984)

Ricardo Montalbán agreed
to reprise his role of Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) for only $100,000 because he loved the
role so much.
He also watched the
original series episode
"Space Seed" to recall
Khan, worried that
he would sound too
much like Mr. Roarke.

Ricardo Montalbán (Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino, KSG, November 25th, 1920 – January 14th, 2009), was born in Mexico City and grew up in Torreón, the son of Spanish immigrants Ricarda Merino Jiménez and Genaro Balbino Montalbán Busano, a store manager. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and had a sister, Carmen, and two brothers, Pedro and Carlos. As a teenager, he moved to Los Angeles to live with Carlos. They moved to New York City in 1940, and Montalbán earned a minor role in the play Her Cardboard Lover. Montalbán's career spanned seven decades, during which he became known for many different roles.

In 1941, Montalbán appeared in three-minute musicals produced for the Soundies film jukeboxes as an extra or as a member of a singing chorus (usually billed as Men and Maids of Melody), although he had the lead role in He's a Latin from Staten Island (1941), in which he (billed simply as "Ricardo") playing a guitar-strumming gigolo, accompanied by an offscreen vocal by Gus Van. Late in 1941, Montalbán returned to Mexico after learning that his mother was dying. There, he acted in a dozen Spanish-language films and became a star in the Mexican cinema.

When Montalbán returned to the United States and Hollywood in 1943, studios wanted to change his name to Ricky Martin. His first leading role was in the film Border Incident (1949) with actor George Murphy. He was the first Hispanic actor to appear on the front cover of Life magazine on November 21st, 1949.

During the 1950s and 1960s, he was one of only a handful of actively working Hispanic actors in Hollywood, although he portrayed a wide range of ethnicities. Many of his early roles were in Westerns in which he played character parts, usually as an "Indian" or as a "Latin Lover", but he was cast against type in the film Mystery Street (1950), playing a Cape Cod police officer. He portrayed Japanese characters, Nakamura in the film Sayonara (1957), and Tokura in the Hawaii Five-O episode "Samurai" (1968). In the 1963 comedy Love Is a Ball, he played a naive, penniless French duke being groomed as a potential husband for a rich American woman. From 1957 to 1959, he starred in the Broadway musical Jamaica, singing several light-hearted calypso numbers opposite Lena Horne.

Montalbán also starred in radio, such as on the internationally syndicated program "Lobo del Mar" (Seawolf), in which he was cast as the captain of a vessel which became part of some adventure at each port it visited. This 30-minute weekly show aired in many Spanish-speaking countries until the early 1970s. In 1972, Montalbán co-founded the Screen Actors Guild Ethnic Minority Committee with actors Carmen Zapata, Henry Darrow and Edith Diaz. In 1975, he was chosen as the television spokesman for the new Chrysler Cordoba. The car became a successful model, and over the following several years, was heavily advertised; his mellifluous delivery of a line praising the "soft Corinthian leather" upholstery of the car's interior, often misquoted as "fine" or "rich Corinthian leather" (he did describe the leather as "rich" for later ads for the Chrysler New Yorker), became famous and was much parodied, and Montalbán subsequently became a favorite subject of impersonators. Eugene Levy, for example, frequently impersonated him on SCTV.

Montalbán's best-known television role was that of Mr. Roarke in the television series Fantasy Island, which he played from 1977 until 1984. For a while, the series was one of the most popular on television, and his character as well as that of his sidekick, Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize), became pop icons.

Another of his well-known roles was that of Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, in which he reprised a role that he had originated in the 1967 episode of Star Trek titled "Space Seed". Early rumors suggested Montalbán wore prosthetic muscles on his chest during filming of Star Trek II to appear more muscular. Director Nicholas Meyer replied that even in his sixties Montalbán had a vigorous training regimen, was "one strong cookie," and that his real chest was seen on film. Khan's costume was specifically designed to display Montalbán's physique. Critic Christopher Null called Khan the "greatest role of Montalbán's career".

New Yorker critic Pauline Kael said Montalbán's performance as Khan "was the only validation he has ever had of his power to command the big screen." Montalbán agreed to take the role for a significant pay cut, since by his own admission, he relished reprising the role, and his only regret was that he and William Shatner never interacted – the characters never meet face to face, except through video communication – as their scenes were filmed several months apart in order to accommodate Montalbán's schedule for Fantasy Island. When Montalbán guest-starred in the Family Guy episode "McStroke" as a genetically engineered cow, his character made several references to his role as Khan, and similar references were made in his role as Guitierrez in the cartoon series Freakazoid.

Montalbán appeared in many diverse films including The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! as well as two films from both the Planet of the Apes and Spy Kids series. In addition, he appeared in various musicals, such as The Singing Nun (1966), also starring Debbie Reynolds. Over the course of his long career, he played lead roles or guest-starred in dozens of television series. Montalbán also narrated several historical documentaries including the Spanish version of the National Park Service's history of Pecos Pueblo for Pecos National Historical Park.

Prior to his death in January 2009, Montalbán recorded the voice for a guest character in an episode of the animated TV series American Dad!, in which main character Roger becomes the dictator of a South American country. According to executive producer Mike Barker, it was his last role.

Montalbán was born with an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his spine and during the filming of the 1951 film, Across the Wide Missouri, Montalbán was thrown from his horse, knocked unconscious, and trampled by another horse, which aggravated his condition and resulted in a traumatic back injury that never healed. The pain increased as he aged, and in 1993, he underwent over 9 hours of spinal surgery that left him paralysed below the waist and requiring the use of a wheelchair. Despite constant pain, he continued to perform, providing voices for animated films and supporting his Nosotros foundation. Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez created a role in his Spy Kids film series (above) specifically for Montalbán, which included the use of a jet-propelled wheelchair.

The way he was asked to portray Mexicans disturbed him, so Montalbán, along with Richard Hernandez, Val de Vargas, Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., Carlos Rivas, Tony de Marco and Henry Darrow established the Nosotros ("We") Foundation in 1970 to advocate for Latinos in the movie and television industry. He served as its first president and was quoted as saying: "I received tremendous support, but there also were some negative repercussions. I was accused of being a militant, and as a result I lost jobs."

The foundation created the Golden Eagle Awards, an annual awards show that highlights Latino actors. The awards are presented in conjunction with the Nosotros American Latino Film Festival (NALFF), held at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood.

The Nosotros Foundation and the Ricardo Montalbán Foundation agreed to purchase the Doolittle Theatre in 1999 from UCLA. The theater was owned by Howard Hughes in the early 1930s then later renamed the Huntington Hartford Theater when purchased in 1954 by philanthropist Huntington Hartford, the Doolittle Theater and then the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. The process from agreement to opening took over four years. The facility in Hollywood was officially renamed the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in a May 11th, 2004 ceremony. The event was attended by numerous celebrities, including Ed Begley Jr., representing the Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Valerie Harper, Loni Anderson, Hector Elizondo and Robert Goulet.

When Montalbán rolled onto the stage in his wheelchair, he repeated "the five stages of the actor" (originally coined by Jack Elam) that he famously stated in several interviews and public speeches:

Who is Ricardo Montalbán?
Get me Ricardo Montalbán.
Get me a Ricardo Montalbán type.
Get me a young Ricardo Montalbán.
Who is Ricardo Montalbán?

He then jokingly added two more stages:
"Wait a minute—isn't that What's-his-name?", referring to his role in the Spy Kids movies, and "Who the hell is that?", believing that to be the reaction of people seeing his name on the theater marquee.

Contrary to his assertions, a younger and older generations are familiar with him through his voice as Señor Senior, Sr., in five Kim Possible television episodes from 2002–2007, as the grandfather in the movies Spy Kids 2 and Spy Kids 3, and as the iconic Khan from Star Trek.

Montalbán spoke about the goal of the Nosotros organization:
Mexico is my mother; the United States the best friend I will ever have. And so I dream of the day when my mother will say, 'Ricardo, you have chosen a wonderful friend.' And the day when the friend will say, 'Ricardo, you have a sensational mother.' That is why it is very important to bring us together. Brothers and sisters, love thy neighbor as thyself. And this theatre, I think, can be a little grain of sand towards that end. Here we have opened the doors not only for the opportunity of young talent to develop - writers, directors, actors - but also in coming together as a group in this society in which we live. Let's open a hand of friendship and love and brotherhood. That is my dream. I'll never see it complete while I'm still alive, but I think this is the beginning, and that is what makes me so happy to see this come to fruition.

Montalbán married actress and model Georgiana Young (born Georgiana Paula Belzer; September 10th, 1924 – November 13th, 2007) in 1944. Georgiana was the half-sister of actresses Sally Blane, Polly Ann Young, and Loretta Young. After 63 years of marriage, Young died from undisclosed causes on November 13th, 2007. She was 83 years old. Her death preceded Montalbán's by one year and two months. They had four children together: Laura, Mark, Anita, and Victor.

Montalbán was a practicing Roman Catholic, once claiming that his religion was the most important thing in his life. He was a member of the Good Shepherd Parish and the Catholic Motion Picture Guild in Beverly Hills, California. In 1998, Pope John Paul II made him a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great (KSG), the highest honor a Roman Catholic lay person can receive from the Church.

Although Montalbán spent most of his life in the United States, he remained a citizen of Mexico and never applied for American citizenship. His autobiography, Reflections: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in January 1980 by Doubleday. He recorded a Public Service Announcement, celebrating America's generosity and hospitality to him as a foreign-born actor, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 and in a 2002 interview, stated that he was "honored to be an American".

On January 14th, 2009, Montalbán died at his home in Los Angeles, aged 88. According to his son-in-law, Gilbert Smith, he died of "complications from advancing age". The precise cause of death was later revealed to be congestive heart failure. He is buried next to his wife Georgiana, at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

    Selected Ricardo Montalbán TVography

The 20th Century-Fox Hour
- Operation Cicero (1956)
- Broken Arrow (1956)

Adventures from the Book of Virtues
- Charity (1998) ... Brother Pedro / Merchant

Adventures in Paradise
- The Derelict (1959)

Alcoa Premiere
- The Glass Palace (1963)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
- Outlaw in Town (1960)

American Dad!
- Moon Over Isla Island (2009)

Ben Casey
- Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (1963)

B.L. Stryker
- High Rise (1990)

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre
- To Sleep, Perchance to Scream (1967)
- Code Name: Heraclitus - Part 1 and 2 (1967)
- In Any Language (1965)

Bracken's World
- Hey, Gringo... Hey, Pocho (1970)
- The Sweet Smell of Failure (1969)

The Brothers Garcia
- The Spin Zone (2003)

- Day of Reckoning (1960)

Burke's Law
- Who Killed Cop Robin? (1965)
- Who Killed the Richest Man in the World? (1964)

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
- Lone Wolf (2000)

Cadena braga
- Episode #1.1 (1991)

Cain's Hundred
- A Creature Lurks in Ambush (1962)

- Four Funerals and a Wedding/I Can Be Anything/Family Reunion (1998)

Celebrity Playhouse
- The Foreigner (1956)

- Hot Wind on a Cold Town (1961)

Chevron Hall of Stars
- Hour of Truth (1956)
- The Secret Weapon of 117 (1956)

The Chevy Show
- Autumn Crocus (1961)
- Mexican Fiesta (1960)

Chicago Hope
- Colonel of Truth (1997)

The Christophers
- Parents Lead the Way (1960)
- Women of the Bible (1960)

- Island in the City (1956)
- The Mojave Kid (1955)

The Colbys
- as Powers (1985 to 1987, 49 episodes)

Colgate Theatre
- Tonight in Havana (1958)

- A Matter of Honor (1976)

- Gadjo (1967)

Dan August
- The Murder of a Small Town (1970)

Daniel Boone
- The Symbol (1966)

The Danny Thomas Hour
- One for My Baby (1968)

Death Valley Days
- Eagle in the Rocks (1960)

The Defenders
- Whitewash (1964)

The Dick Powell Show
- Epilogue (1963)

The Dinah Shore Chevy Show
- Autumn Crocus (1961)

- Zorro: Auld Acquaintance (1961)

Dora the Explorer
- The Missing Piece (2002)

The Doris Day Show
- Billy's First Date (1971)

Dr. Kildare
- No Other Road (1966)
- I Can Hear the Ice Melting (1966)
- Some Tales for Halloween (1966)
- A Few Hearts, a Few Flowers (1966)

Dream On
- The Second Greatest Story Ever Told (1991)

Executive Suite
- as David Valerio (1976-1977, 8 episodes)

Family Guy
- McStroke (2008)

Fantasy Island
- as Mr. Roarke (1977-1984, 154 episodes)

Felony Squad
- A Fashion for Dying (1968)
- A Blueprint for Dying (1967)

The Ford Television Theatre
- The Lady in His Life (1956)
- Cardboard Casanova (1955)

Frances Farmer Presents
- Night in Havana (1958)

- Normadeus (1997)
- Hero Boy (1996)
- The Wrath of Guitierrez (1996)
- The Chip: Part 2/Freakazoid Is History (1995)
- The Chip: Part 1 (1995)

General Electric Theater
- Esteban's Legacy (1956)

The Golden Palace
- Senor Stinky Learns Absolutely Nothing About Life (1993)

The Great Adventure
- The Pirate and the Patriot (1964)
- The Massacre at Wounded Knee (1963)
- The Death of Sitting Bull (1963)

The Greatest Show on Earth
- The Hanging Man (1963)

- Countdown to Terror (1973)

- Chato (1970)

Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child
- Sleeping Beauty (1995)

Hawaii Five-O
- Death Wish on Tantalus Mountain (1972)
- Samurai (1968)

Hearts Are Wild
- The Catch (1992)

Heaven Help Us
- as Mr. Shepherd, 13 episodes

Here's Lucy
- Lucy and Her Prince Charming (1972)

The High Chaparral
- Our Lady of Guadalupe (1968)
- Tiger by the Tail (1968)

How the West Was Won
- as Satangkai (TV Mini-Series, 1976-1978)

I Spy
- Magic Mirror (1967)

- Trial by Fire (1966)
- The Ragpicker (1962)
- The Martyr (1960)

- The Sacrifice (1968)

It Takes a Thief
- The Galloping Skin Game (1968)
- The Thingamabob Heist (1968)

James Garner (Nichols)
- The Siege (1971)

Letter to Loretta
- The Man Who Couldn't Smile (1961)
- No Margin for Error (1960)
- At the Edge of the Desert (1960)
- The Hired Hand (1960)
- Each Man's Island (1959)
- The Man on Top (1957)
- Rhubarb in Apartment B-7 (1956)
- The Cardinal's Secret (1956)
- Gino (1955)

The Lieutenant
- Tour of Duty (1964)

The Long, Hot Summer
- Man with Two Faces (1966)

Love Boat: The Next Wave
- Getting to Know You (1998)

Kim Possible
- The Big Job (2007)
- The Cupid Effect (2007)
- Two to Tutor (2003)
- Animal Attraction (2003)
- The New Ron (2002)

The Lloyd Bridges Show
- War Song (1962)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The King of Diamonds Affair (1966)
- The Dove Affair (1964)

Marcus Welby, M.D.
- Labyrinth (1970)

McNaughton's Daughter
- as Dist. Atty. Charles Quintero (1976, Mini Series)

Mission: Impossible
- Snowball in Hell (1967)

Murder, She Wrote
- Murder in F Sharp (1990)

The Name of the Game
- Echo of a Nightmare (1970)
- A Wrath of Angels (1969)

O'Hara, U.S. Treasury
- Operation: Lady Luck (1972)

Play of the Week
- Rashomon (1960)

Playhouse 90
- Target for Three (1959)
- Child of Trouble (1957)

Police Story
- Hard Rock Brown (1977)

- A Night at Trapper's Landing (1959)

The Rogues
- Hugger-Mugger, by the Sea (1964)

- The Badge or the Cross (1971)

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars
- Storm Over Rapallo (1957)

Slattery's People
- Question: What Became of the White Tortilla?

Star Trek
- Space Seed (1967)

- Jeff McCleod, the Last Reb (1960)

- Kiss of Death (1975)

- Someone Wicked This Way Comes (2001)

The Untouchables
- Stranglehold (1961)

The Virginian
- Last of the Comancheros (1970)
- The Wind of Outrage (1968)
- The Big Deal (1962)

Wagon Train
- The Jean LeBec Story (1957)

The Wild Wild West
- The Night of the Lord of Limbo (1966)

- Auld Acquaintance (1961)

    Selected Ricardo Montalbán Filmography


The Three Musketeers (uncredited)

La virgen que forjó una patria (uncredited)

El verdugo de Sevilla


Cinco fueron escogidos

La razón de la culpa (uncredited)



Five Were Chosen

La fuga


La casa de la zorra

The Hour of Truth

Cadetes de la naval



Pepita Jiménez



Fantasía ranchera


The Kissing Bandit

On an Island with You



Border Incident

Neptune's Daughter


Mystery Street

Two Weeks with Love

Right Cross


Across the Wide Missouri

The Mark of the Renegade


My Man and I



Latin Lovers


La cortigiana di Babilonia

The Saracen Blade

Sombra verde


A Life in the Balance


Three for Jamie Dawn



Los amantes del desierto


Rashomon (TV Movie)

Let No Man Write My Epitaph


Gordon, il pirata nero


The Reluctant Saint

Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man


Love Is a Ball


¡Buenas noches, año nuevo!

The Fantasticks (TV Movie)

Cheyenne Autumn


The Money Trap


The Singing Nun

Alice Through the Looking Glass (TV Movie)


The Longest Hundred Miles

Code Name: Heraclitus (TV Movie)



Sol Madrid


Sweet Charity

The Desperate Mission (TV Movie)

The Pigeon (TV Movie)


The Aquarians (TV Movie)

Black Water Gold (TV Movie)


Escape from the Planet of the Apes

The Face of Fear (TV Movie)

The Deserter


Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Fireball Forward (TV Movie)


The Train Robbers


The Mark of Zorro (TV Movie)

Wonder Woman (TV Movie)


Joe Panther

Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood


Captains Courageous (TV Movie)

Mission to Glory: A True Story


Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan


Cannonball Run II


The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!


Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams


Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over


The Ant Bully - as Head of Council (voice)

My Neat Stuff Hall of Fame Look



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