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Ricardo Montalban

Ricardo Montalban

Mention the name Ricardo Montalban and several associations come to mind: handsome, masculine, talented, intelligent, charismatic, and of course, Fantasy Island, Chrysler and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The seven years Ricardo starred on Fantasy Island (1978-84) and his fifteen years as a spokesman for Chrysler made him into a national institution. Added to this is the list of many memorable performances in more than 40 motion pictures in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. Few actors active today can look back at a successful career as a contract player, through the exciting infancy of television onto the present era.

In addition to his success on television and his 1978 Emmy-winning portrayal of Chief Satankai in How The West Was Won, Ricardo enjoyed tremendous public and critical acclaim for his role as Khan in Star Trek II, which he recreated from an earlier television role. Paramount executives were so moved by his acting that they retitled the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. From 1986-1987, Ricardo starred as Zachary Powers on the ABC series The Colbys. In 1989, he starred as the villain in Naked Gun.

After having received his basic education in Mexico City, Ricardo finished his schooling at Fairfax High School in Hollywood where he made his theatrical debut in a number of school productions. It was there that he attracted the attention of studio talent scouts, and was offered an MGM screen test after his graduation. However, he opted to follow his brother to New York City where Ricardo was dazzled by the legitimate stage.

The break came when he was cast in a small part with Tallulah Bankhead in Her Cardboard Lover. From that point on, he became a much employed stage actor and appeared in one summer stock success after another. Ricardo went on to star as Don Juan in the George Bernard Shaw play, Don Juan In Hell, a role, which received outstanding reviews. He also won critical acclaim for his performances in The King And I and the Broadway musical Jamaica, which he starred in for two years with Lena Horne.

In 1941, he returned to his native Mexico and made thirteen films in four years. Ricardo was nominated for the Mexican Academy Award for the film Santa, in which he played a bullfighter. Ricardo was then rediscovered by MGM and offered the lead with Esther Williams in Fiesta. After the picture was released, Ricardo was immediately put under contract for a period of 10 years. In Neptune's Daughter, he and Esther Williams introduced the big hit song, Baby, It's Cold Outside. The big dance number in On An Island With You and The Kissing Bandit convinced all viewers that Ricardo was a dancer, when in actuality he had never danced in his life. Soon after, Ricardo starred in Two Weeks With Love with Jane Powell. Also under the MGM banner, Ricardo appeared in three William Wellman films (Battleground, Across The Wide Missouri, My Man And I). His other films include Latin Lovers (co-starring Lana Turner), Right Cross (with June Allyson and Dick Powell), Sombrero, Border Incident, and Mystery Street.

As a freelance star, Ricardo was seen in Sayonara (with Marlon Brando), Life In the Balance (with Anne Bancroft), Sol Madrid, Reluctant Saint, and Adventures of a Young Man. His co-starring role with Shirley MacLaine in Sweet Charity for Universal was also a grand success.

As a Hispanic, Ricardo has become a role model for his people. In 1969, Ricardo helped found Nosotros, an organization that made in-roads in helping to remove negative stereotypes of Hispanics in the film and television industries. Although he is no longer associated with Nosotros, Ricardo continues to work on various other projects including American Lung and Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and various social, educational and charitable institutions.

Ricardo is married to Georgiana Young, youngest sister of the late Loretta Young. They have two sons, Mark and Victor, and two daughters, Laura and Anita. The Montalbans live in the Hollywood Hills.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Ricardo Montalban Facts

BirthdayNovember 25, 1920 (103)
BirthplaceMexico City, Mexico
Height6' (1m83)  How tall is Ricardo Montalban compared to you?
Awards1994 Screen Actors Guild Awards: Life Achievement Award

Selected Filmography

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Day of Reckoning
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!
The Ant Bully
Space Seed
Planet of the Apes
Cannonball Run 2
Madame X
Fantasy Island
Portrait in Black / Madame X
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