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Ricardo Montalban dies at 88

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Ricardo Montalban dies at 88

Jan. 14, 2009, 4:08 PM EST


LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican-born actor who became a star in splashy MGM musicals and later as the wish-fulfilling Mr. Roarke in TV's "Fantasy Island," died Wednesday morning at his home, a city councilman said. He was 88.

Montalban's death was announced at a meeting of the city council by president Eric Garcetti, who represents the district where the actor lived. Garcetti did not give a cause of death.

"The Ricardo Montalban Theatre in my Council District — where the next generations of performers participate in plays, musicals, and concerts — stands as a fitting tribute to this consummate performer," Garcetti said later in a written statement.

Montalban had been a star in Mexican movies when MGM brought him to Hollywood in 1946. He was cast in the leading role opposite Esther Williams in "Fiesta." He also starred with the swimming beauty in "On an Island with You" and "Neptune's Daughter."

A later generation knew Montalban as the faintly mysterious, white-suited Mr. Roarke, who presided over an island resort where visitors were able to fulfill their lifelong dreams. "Fantasy Island" received high ratings for most of its 1978-1984 span on ABC television and still appears in reruns.

In a 1978 interview, he analyzed the series' success:

"What is appealing is the idea of attaining the unattainable and learning from it. Once you obtain a fantasy it becomes a reality, and that reality is not as exciting as your fantasy. Through the fantasies you learn to appreciate your own realities."

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I loved that man! When my mom was still living, she used to make us watch Fantasy Island all the time when we were kids. He looked mighty fine being 88 yrs old I'll tell ya. It was nice to see that he was still doing films with the Spy Kids series. He will be surely missed in the Hispanic community. :(

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It is a sad day indeed. He was truly an inspiration to me.

My mom had this pain in the a$$ dog that used to bark constantly and was always chewing on everything...clothing, shoes, furniture, people....

Anyway, I hated that dog. Hated it. I can't remember what his real name was, because I nicknamed him Retardo Montalban and it stuck. I think maybe his name was Lucky. Man I hated that dog.

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He was great as grandfather in Spy Kids 2 and 3, then as Head of Council in Ant Bully. However, I think Khan was his greatest role.

Married to the same woman for 63 years until her death just over a year ago.

Even though he was confined to a wheelchair since '93, he continued to act.

He will be missed. One of Hollywood's truly distinct and commanding voices.

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