Ricardo Montalban passed yesterday at age 88 — sorry. Then again, having lived a exciting high-style life for 88 years is hardly a tragedy. When you hear his name you think (a) Fantasy Island, (b) his muscular pecs in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (very impressive for a guy who was 61 years old) and (c) Esther Wiliams costar. But my strongest memory is the way he said the words “rich Corinthian leather” in those Chrysler Cordoba commercials. (His Wikipedia bio says that the adjective was “soft,” not “rich.”)
I loved Montalban’s Ahab-ish dying words in The Wrath of Khan — “for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath,” etc. And he was half-decent, I thought, as a Kabuki player in Joshua Logan‘s Sayonara (’57), although it was pretty silly to hire a Mexico City Latino to play a Japanese guy.