Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Ricardo Montalban (1920-2009)
and Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009)

I usually don't combine obits, but I'm still recovering from today's surgery and anesthesia, so this will probably be short, plus there is a link between these two late actors: both played Columbo villains.


Montalban's lengthy career ran the gamut from screen stardom to Broadway to television, from Westerns to sci-fi to broad comedy. The Mexican-born actor's first English language film of note was the 1949 World War II drama Battleground. The same year, he co-starred in Neptune's Daughter with Esther Williams. 1951 brought him opposite Clark Gable in Bill Wellman's Across the Wide Missouri.

Despite his Mexican heritage, he was often plugged into any ethnicity in his roles, including playing a Japanese man in 1957's Sayonara along with his many turns as Native Americans. The next year, his turn in the Broadway musical Jamaica earned him a Tony nomination as best actor.

He appeared in a lot of episodic television from Bonanza to Wild, Wild West to the aforementioned Columbo: A Matter of Honor where he played a rich Mexican baron who rigged a bullfight to takeout an enemy. Of course, then there was Star Trek and Khan. The TV series' episode "Space Seed" begat the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which really rebooted the Trek film franchise following the hyperdull Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Prior to that, he'd created the iconic role of Mr. Roarke, your host for Fantasy Island. He also was a regular on the Dynasty spinoff The Colbys, played the bad guy in the original Naked Gun and played the grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3-D, after severe back troubles limited Montalban's work to wheelchairs and always being seated.

RIP Ricardo. I hope you lie on rich Corinthian leather for eternity.


I was just discussing the other day how I'm ashamed to admit that I've never seen McGoohan's crowning achievement, The Prisoner.

I know McGoohan best from Columbo, where he was so good he appeared four different times. His best appearances were in the original series, especially the one where he was the commandant of a military academy, though he had a lot of fun as a secret agent who thinks he's toying with Columbo as well.

He did some fine big screen as well, particularly as the warden in Escape from Alcatraz and the evil art forgerer in Silver Streak.

He not only acted, but frequently produced and directed on Columbo and produced The Prisoner.

RIP Patrick.

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Several of us think The Prisoner might well be the best television series ever. If you have needed a reason not to leave the house, this is it.

I notices that McGoohan and Montalban both had Columbo credits in IMDb. I enjoyed Montalban best in the televised version of The Fantasticks and for the immortal lines spoken in a commercial.
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