Simply the greatest Star Trek villain ever, and from all accounts, a charming and wonderful gentleman in real life, Ricardo Montalban has passed away at age 88. His long career includes an astounding 160+ appearances in films and television, mostly in children’s entertainment for the last few years. Even so, he will always be best known for two characters that became part of Americana — Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island and Khan Noonien Singh from Star Trek: The Original Series and the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican-born actor who became a star in splashy MGM musicals and later as the wish-fulfilling Mr. Roarke in TV’s ”Fantasy Island,” died Wednesday morning at his home, a city councilman said. He was 88.
Montalban’s death was announced at a city council meeting by president Eric Garcetti, who represents the district where the actor lived. Garcetti did not give a cause of death.
”What you saw on the screen and on television and on talk shows, this very courtly, modest, dignified individual, that’s exactly who he was,” said Montalban’s longtime friend and publicist David Brokaw.
After Star Trek: The Movie, fans wondered whether any of the films would regain the edge of the best of the ST:TOS episodes. Montalban brought that much-needed edge to his appearance, and the rivalry between Khan and Kirk never really got matched in any of the subsequent installments. Montalban reprised his “Space Seed” role with relish, as we can see in this clip from early in the movie:
KHAAAAAAAAAAN! We will miss you, Mr. Montalban. Godspeed.