Ricardo Montalban passed away yesterday at the age of 88.
"Fantasy Island" was one of my weekly must-see shows when I was growing up. It, along with "The Love Boat", was an extra chance to see any number of the popular TV stars of the decade on some sort of madcap vacation adventure...all in one hour. Mr. Montalban, as Mr. Roarke, seemed like the perfect host and provided an ideal welcome to any traveler...
"Smiles everyone. SMILES!"
He was also famous for his Chrysler Cordoba car commercials around that time. He was responsible for the oft-quoted phrase "fine Corinthian Leather", although what he really said in the commercial was "soft Corinthian Leather".
Interesting Fact: "Corinthian Leather" was just a marketing term...it doesn't really apply to any specific type of leather. It was actually mass-produced in a plant in Newark.
"Soft New Jersey leather" probably wouldn't have sounded quite as luxurious to most consumers at the time.
Of course, he'll likely be remembered most for his turn on the original "Star Trek" series and, many years later, in the movie "Star Trek: Wrath of Kahn" as....Kahn (or "Kaaahhhhnnnnn!!" as William Shatner's Captain Kirk so famously bellowed into his communicator during the film).
One of the most popular questions about Ricardo during the promotion of that film was whether that was his real body bursting forth from his plunging necklined costume...
"That is his real chest," the director said as he held court on the carpet outside the Paramount Theatre, emphatically assuring reporters that Ricardo Montalban's pectorals were no special effect. "That's the question I'm asked most frequently about 'Star Trek II.' It was his chest!"
Take that Pamela Anderson!
He will be missed.