Monday, January 14, 2013

Celebrity Grave: Actor Ricardo Montalban 2009 "Wrath of Khan"

Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino, KSG (November 25, 1920 – January 14, 2009) was a Mexican radio, television, theatre and film actor. He had a career spanning seven decades (motion pictures from 1943 to 2006) and multiple notable roles. During the mid-1970s, Montalbán was most notable as the spokesman in automobile advertisements for the Chrysler Cordoba (in which he famously extolled the "soft Corinthian leather" used for its interior). From 1977 to 1984, he became famous as Mr. Roarke the main star in the television series Fantasy Island. He played Khan Noonien Singh in both the 1967 episode "Space Seed" of the first season of the original Star Trek series, and the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He won an Emmy Award in 1978, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild in 1993. Into his 80s, he continued to perform, often providing voices for animated films and commercials, and appearing in several Spy Kids films as "Grandfather Valentin."


During the filming of the 1951 film, Across the Wide Missouri, Montalbán was thrown from his horse, knocked unconscious, and trampled by another horse, resulting in a painful back injury that never healed. The pain increased as he aged, and in 1993, Montalbán underwent 9½ hours of spinal surgery which left him paralyzed below the waist and using a wheelchair. Despite constant pain, the actor persevered; he performed and provided voices for animated films and supported Nosotros. Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez created a role for him as "Grandfather Cortez" in the popular 2000s Spy Kids film series, and wrote the part specifically including his wheelchair – now jet-propelled to allow him to move throughout the scenes.

Personal life

He married Georgiana Young (née Georgiana Paula Belzer; September 10, 1924—November 13, 2007), who had a brief acting and modeling career, in 1944; they had four children: Laura, Mark, Anita and Victor. Georgiana was the half-sister of the actresses Sally Blane, Polly Ann Young, and movie and television star Loretta Young, who nicknamed her "Georgie." After sixty-three years of marriage, she died at the age of 83, on November 13, 2007, predeceasing her husband by fourteen months.

Montalbán was a practicing Roman Catholic and once had said that his religion was the "most important thing" in his life. In 1998, Pope John Paul II named him a Knight of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, the highest honor a Roman Catholic lay person can receive from the Church. 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. Although he spent most of his life in the United States, he remained a citizen of Mexico and never applied for American citizenship.

Montalbán's autobiography, Reflections: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in January 1980 by Doubleday.


Montalbán died on January 14, 2009 at his home in the Greater Los Angeles Area, at age 88. According to his son-in-law Gilbert Smith, Montalbán died of "complications from advancing age". His cause of death was later revealed to be congestive heart failure. He is buried next to his wife in Culver City's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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