Ricardo Montalban life and biography

Ricardo Montalban picture, image, poster

Ricardo Montalban biography

Date of birth : 1920-11-25
Date of death : 2009-01-14
Birthplace : Mexico City, Mexico
Nationality : Mexican
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-10-19
Credited as : Actor, Nosotros Foundation, Golden Eagle Awards

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Actor Ricardo Montalban launched his film career in his native country Mexico and returned to the U.S. in 1947 for his first leading role in the musical Fiesta opposite Cyd Charisse. The dark, handsome actor with the romantic Spanish accent would go on to play numerous Latin lover-type roles. It was his role as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island that launched him into true stardom.

Born Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalban y Merino on November 25, 1920 in Mexico City, Mexico. Though audiences might best remember him as Mr. Roarke, the suave host of the hit television series Fantasy Island, Montalban has had a long acting career spanning back to the 1930s.

Though born in Mexico, Montalban first worked as an actor on Broadway. He launched his film career in Mexico and returned to the U.S. in 1947 for his first leading role in the musical Fiesta opposite Cyd Charisse. The dark, handsome actor with the romantic Spanish accent would go on to play numerous Latin lover-type roles, including a memorable performance in the Ester Williams' musical water extravaganza On an Island With You in 1948. The following year, Montalban broke from his mold to play a border agent in the suspense drama Border Incident. He followed with another dramatic role in Battleground in 1949.

Montalban's television career was less consistent until 1976, when he earned an Emmy for his portrayal of a Sioux chief in the television miniseries How the West Was Won. And in 1978, he landed the Fantasy Island role that would launch him into bona fide stardom. In 1982, Montalban reprised his television role of Khan, Captain Kirk's nemesis, in a 1982 movie The Wrath of Khan.

Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s Montalban's career has slowed, though he has appeared periodically on television and in feature films. He also became noted as pitchman for Chrysler Cordobas, with his lilting praise for the cars' "rich Corinthian leather." His autobiography, Reflections: A Life in Two Worlds, was published in 1980.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s Moltalban's career recieved something of a second wind when he began performing vocal work on such animated television series' as Freakazoid!, Dora the Explorer, and Kim Possible, with a role as the kindly grandfather in Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over even giving the wheelchair-bound actor an opportunity to triumphantly rise once again thanks to the magic of special effects. Additional vocal work in the 2006 animated family adventure The Ant Bully continued to keep Montalban busy despite his physical limitations.

Montalbán, along with Richard Hernandez, Val de Vargas, Rodolfo Hoyos Jr., Carlos Rivas, Tony de Marco, and Henry Darrow established the Nosotros Foundation in 1970 to advocate for Latinos in the movie and television industry. He served as its first president and was quoted as saying:
“ I received tremendous support, but there also were some negative repercussions. I was accused of being a militant, and as a result I lost jobs. ”

The foundation created the Golden Eagle Awards, an annual awards show that highlights Latino actors. The awards are presented in conjunction with the Nosotros American Latino Film Festival (NALFF), held at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood.

The Nosotros Foundation and the Ricardo Montalbán Foundation agreed to purchase the Doolittle Theatre in 1999 from UCLA. The process from agreement to opening took over four years.
The facility in Hollywood was officially renamed the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in a May 11, 2004 ceremony. The event was attended by numerous celebrities, including Ed Begley, Jr., representing the Screen Actors Guild (SAG); Valerie Harper, Loni Anderson, Hector Elizondo and Robert Goulet.

Ricardo Montalban died on January 14, 2009 at his home. He was 88 years old. In a reaction to his death, Raul Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza stated, "I hope his spirit pervades more of Hollywood - the spirit of humility and excellence and giving back to the community and just plain decency... He was a marvelous human being, and an inspiration to be around."

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