Montalban, AKA, Khan from "Star Trek II."
AKA, Mr. Roarke, your host, from "Fantasy Island."
AKA, Vincent Ludwig from "Naked Gun," the finest baseball movie ever made, in which Montalban's character uses Elvis' ex-wife and none other than Reggie Jackson to assassinate the Queen of England in front of a packed house at Dodger Stadium.
OK, maybe I'm confusing "Naked Gun" with the other finest baseball movies ever made, such as "Bull Durham" or "Major League," but everything else is spot on. You probably could recite Reggie's robotic line from "Naked Gun" in your sleep: "I must kill... the queen."
Yeah, well, Reggie never would have tried to kill anyone without Montalban pulling his strings.
Born in Mexico to Spanish parents, Montalban lived richly for 88 years. He sought credibility and created respect for Latino actors in Hollywood and invented several outstanding characters for himself, delivering Shakespearean performances (some called them melodramatic) in schlocky "B" material (some called it genius).
And Montalban had another thespian connection to baseball. For it, look no further than "Fantasy Island." Sure, some of the show's stories went a bit over the top, and \"Baseball Superstar\" was no different.
In the March 25, 1978 episode, Mr. Roarke and Tattoo help a semi-undersized Gary Burghoff (Radar from "M*A*S*H") realize his dream of playing in the majors. Several stars of the era, including George Brett, Ken Brett, Fred Lynn, Ellis Valentine, Steve Garvey and Tommy Lasorda all pitched in. That Lasorda can flat-out act.
Coincidentally, Leslie Nielsen (Enrico Palazzo!) was in the same "Fantasy Island" episode (but was involved in a different story). This information is gold for any of you playing Ricardo Montalban drinking/six degrees of separation games.
Anyway, here's to the memory of Montalban. Thanks to him, every time I eat a hot dog at a ballgame, I worry about chomping on a bit of someone's finger (that's not Chicago Style, by the way).
- Ricardo Montalban
- Reggie Jackson