January 14, 2009

2 iconic TV actors — Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan — have died.

Montalban died this morning. McGoohan died yesterday. Montalban presided over Fantasy Island, "where visitors fulfilled their lifelong dreams," and McGoohan was The Prisoner in "a small enclave known only as The Village, where a mysterious authority named Number One constantly prevents his escape."

So, dreams and nightmares. Escaping to and escaping from. "Fantasy Island" aired from 1978 to 1984, and "The Prisoner" was a product of the 1960s. "Fantasy Island" was American, and "The Prisoner" was British.

How interesting that the synchronous deaths of these 2 men — Montalban, 88, and McGoohan, 80 — stir contemplation of the similarities and differences between 2 old television shows.


blake said...

Smiles, everyone! Smiles!

(Is that in bad taste?)

Nichevo said...

No, I'm sure that's just how yur host would have wanted it.

But what sort of epitaph for McGoohan? Acerbic, definitely acerbic.

Mark Gunderson said...

You mean... Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhnnn! has died?

I hope that wasn't disrespectful. Cliche I can handle, though.

traditionalguy said...

As a traditional guy, I do miss the old Gentlemen types from the pre-1970's mileu who could do it all as well as anyone and added a touch of class. Not that there's anything wrong with today's rude and clueless mileu.

Issob Morocco said...

Ann, no one cared about number one, it was the insidious number 2 who drew our wrath and fueled our frustration.

Mr. McGoohan had that look as though he did not suffer fools. He would not do well in the US Senate.

As for Mr.Montalban, watch the movie Battleground from 1950 to see him in prime acting form. That is short of his stint pitching "rich Corinthian Leather in a Chrysler Cordoba" which is how most boomers remember him.

God's blessings to both.

Tibore said...

I confess, I can't comment on McGoohan, since I don't recall any of his roles. But Montalban was a classy and dignified actor, and I am sad at his passing.

George Takei - Sulu from the original Star Trek - talked about Montalban during the shooting of Wrath of Khan. He said the man really understood how to be a grand, old time movie star.

Sad loss.

Zeb Quinn said...

I confess, I can't comment on McGoohan, since I don't recall any of his roles

Secret Agent, The Prisoner, a couple of very memorable Columbo appearances, and Longshanks, King Edward I in Braveheart. Seminal roles each. I know he was in many other things, but those are what I remember him from.

Ann Althouse said...

I must admit: I didn't watch "Fantasy Island," and my memory of Montalban was mostly "rich Corinthian Leather." I do remember reading that he was considered an excellent actor, and he was also very handsome, but he could not minimize his accent enough to compete for most roles.

As for "The Prisoner," I remember when it was on. Some people liked it, and some, like me, found it dull. I'd loved "Twilight Zone," in which problems like that were resolved in 30 minutes.

Cedarford said...

From the other thread on Montalban's death & "The Wrath of Khan":

Ricardo chewed up any scene he was in. One of the best Sci-Fi movies ever, especially with the passage of time. Right up there with Bladerunner, which also came out about then...

They gave Ricardo some great villain lines. All time classic villain lines..From IMDB:

Joachim: They're still running with shields down.
Khan: Of course! We are one big, happy fleet! Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold?

Khan: It is very cold in space!

Joachim: You have defeated the plans of Admiral Kirk. You do not need to defeat him again.
Khan: He tasks me. He tasks me and I shall have him! I'll chase him 'round the moons of Nibia and 'round the Antares Maelstrom and 'round Perdition's flames before I give him up!

Khan, [about to put Ceti Eels in Terrell and Chekov's ears]
Khan: You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow, follows madness and death.
Chekov: Khan, listen to me...
Khan: These are pets, of course. Not quite domesticated.
I believe...

Khan: I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet... buried alive! Buried alive...!

No Oscar nomination, but one of the best movie Baddies ever

Original George said...

I always enjoyed Secret Agent much more than Prisoner, which grew increasingly loony as the episodes went on.

In Secret Agent, McGoohan typically found himself in some nasty Third World hellhole helping Whitehall overthrow an even nastier dictator. Or fighting the Ruskies in Eastern Europe. Thought filmed in the early 1960s, the show had a grubby 1950s feel about it, unlike the psychedlic Prisoner. More often than not, McGoohan's inevitable victory in each episode would involve some element that would leave a bad taste in his mouth, giving the show an unusally realistic feel for its era.

Absolutely great soundtrack, not just the Johnny Rivers song.

I may be wrong, but I think he almost beat out Connery for the Bond role.

traditionalguy said...

If Rod Serling could do the 21st Century version of Twilight Zone, nobody would see anything new to watch anymore. The TV series shown in family hour and the cartoons shown to the kindergarteners have way more facinating supernatural power weird stuff than Rod could show in 30 mins.in black and white. But he did have a wittier way of presenting it.

Nichevo said...

Ann, speaking as a New Yorker, the difference between any deficiencies in Montalban's diction and in your typical Midwesterner's would be imperceptible.

I would MUCH rather Garrison Keillor had his tongue cut out and Montalban had his Prairie Home Companion spot. (Well, somebody could still cut Keillor's tongue out...1 out of 2 ain't bad...)

People who say "melk" and "rut beer" had best say nothing at all about how others speak.

Scrutineer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scrutineer said...

Mark Gunderson - ... You mean... Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhnnn! has died?


What a superb villain.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not expressing my own opinion about his accent, simply recounting what I read about why his wasn't given more opportunities.

Obviously, a harsh midwestern accent must also be modified for general consumption.

And many great actors can adjust their accent as is needed. But it seems to be harder to do accents when you are not speaking your first language.

EDH said...

Cedarford said...

They gave Ricardo some great villain lines...

Naw. My personal favorite is from the Naked Gun:

Jane (Presley): How could you do something so vicious?

Vincent Ludwig (Montalban): It was easy my dear. You forget, I spent two years as a building contractor.


CW said...

Montalban's Mr. Roarke gave individuals their dreams. McGoohan's "Prisoner" showed an individual in a nightmare.

Montalban deplaned. McGoohan is no longer a number.

Be seeing you.


chuck b. said...

TV show premises used to be much more fanciful than they are now, but not really watching that much dramatic television I can't say that with any conviction.

But, Fantasy Island? That shit was just flat-out crazy.

Each show always had three storylines--one comedy, one drama, and one horror. The last quarter-hour when all three narratives climaxed could be emotionally fraught. But then, I was only 10-years-old.

Was the scene in Wrath of Khan wherein Mantalban as Khan infects Chekov with the mind-controlling eels one of the most scary and horrifying things in Star Trek up to that point? I thought so at the time. Alien came out a few years previous. That movie set the highwater mark (still) for parasite terror, but I thought Khan came a close second.

CarmelaMotto said...

Ricardo Montalban to me as a kid was Saturday night, a babysitter, CHiPs, Love Boat and Fantasy Island (guest starring - Barbi Benton in jogging shorts with pantyhose) while having some kind of treat.

Loved those shows. Sorry for his family.

jdeeripper said...

Issob Morocco said...his stint pitching "rich Corinthian Leather in a Chrysler Cordoba" which is how most boomers remember him.

1975 Chrysler Cordoba TV Commercial

Ann Althouse said...

"wherein Mantalban as Khan infects Chekov with the mind-controlling eels one of the most scary and horrifying things in Star Trek up to that point?"

Wait! There are eels?!! I started today with eels. This blogging thing is so spooky.

blake said...

That movie set the highwater mark (still) for parasite terror, but I thought Khan came a close second.

That POV is acceptable if you're ten and haven't seen any of the other parasite-based horror films.

But, really, ST2 doesn't compare to Cronenberg's early works.

blake said...


Not eels, but earwig-thingies.

jdeeripper said...

blake said...Althouse--

Not eels, but earwig-thingies.

Don't get her started on those earwig-thingies!

chuck b. said...

Wikipedia says, "[Khan] implants Chekov and Terrell with indigenous parasitic creatures, resembling both eels and worms, whose young enter the ears of their victims and render them vulnerable to mind control before killing them as they grow, and uses the officers to gain control of the Reliant."

Since I did not write the wiki, I think I can say the parasites eel-like. Eely. Eelesque.

Nichevo said...

But were they


blake said...


And will they help Obama with his Eeelection?

Earwigs a la Althouse.

cardeblu said...

"The Prisoner" was filmed in the village of Portmeirion, Wales (here and here. I would absolutely love to visit there and stay in one of those cottages. While I do remember the show (especially that big, white, bouncing ball), I mainly remember McGoohan as the mean father/veterinarian in "The Three Lives of Thomasina."

Montalban will always be Khan (TOS and ST2-WoK): "From hell's heart, I stab at thee. For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."

Glen said...

Yes. Ricardo Montalban will live on in my memory as Kahn, for as long as I live. And long, long after Fantasy Island is forgotten. Right time, right material, right actor.

Patrick McGoohan? I'll never forget him in The Prisoner. He was television's Richard Burton. Amazing eyes. And The Prisoner was (to this childhood viewer) absolutely mesmerizing. Think Bond + Lost + David Lynch + Benny Hill.

ricpic said...

The Prisoner had some deep gnostic meaning, or wanted you to think it had some deep gnostic meaning.
That's what made it such a favorite of highbrows, or middlebrows who wanted to think of themselves as highbrows.

Darcy said...

Aww. He was unique. May he rest in peace.

I enjoyed his acting and charming presence onscreen, and if I recall correctly, Esther Williams wrote about him in her autobiography. I believe she said he was an absolute gentleman and very religious.

That scene with Chekov is unforgettable to me. It was one of the creepiest things I'd ever seen at the time.

Darcy said...

Obviously I was writing about Montalban.

I never watched "The Prisoner", but my dad enjoyed it, and I'm sorry to read of McGoohan's passing as well.

Darcy said...

Oh! Mark Steyn was thinking of Williams/Montalban too!


save_the_rustbelt said...

The kind of greatness was rarely see these days.

The Prisoner was way ahead of its time, and Secret Agent was tough and gritty and perhaps the first entry in the anti-hero theme.

And Khan resurrected the entire Trek franchise.

Why no great stars these days? I guess times do change.

Xmas said...

Wrath of Khan pretty much set the "even number good, odd number bad" theme when it came to Star Trek films.

1 - dullllllllllll
3 - Googly eyed Klingon
4 - Comedy Gold
5 - Hell, I can't even remember what it was about. Finding God or something.
6 - Shakespeare is so much better in its original Klingon! Plus Samantha from Sex and the City gets Mind-Melded.

TMink said...

The OG (sorry George, I could not resist)wrote: "I may be wrong, but I think he almost beat out Connery for the Bond role."

The story I heard is that he turned the role down!!!!! He did it due to moral reasons. I must know the rest!

And, you can watch the original Prisoner series at AMC.com for free. I recommend it.


dick said...

Strange to think Ricardo was married to Loretta Young's sister for 64 years until she died last year. That must be close to a record for Hollywood. He was a real class act. I don't remember ever even reading a bit of gossip about him ever.

RR Ryan said...

I'm sorry to hear about Montalban. A friend co-starred with him in Operation Cicero(I think) and we went to a screening of a restored copy at the TV and Radio Museum. He was gracious and charming.