‘Fantasy Island’ actor Ricardo Montalban dead at 88

fantasy island actor ricardo montalban dies

Ricardo Montalban, best known for his role as the wish-granting “Mr. Roarke” on the hit TV series “Fantasy Island,” has passed away at the age of 88.

The Mexican-born actor died at his home in Los Angeles Wednesday morning because of “complications related to old age,” the L.A. Times reported.

According to local press reports, Montalban was wheelchair-bound and left with fragile health after a 1993 spinal operation.

“He paved the way for being outspoken about the images and roles that Latinos were playing in movies,” said Luis Reyes, co-author of “Hispanics in Hollywood.”

Montalban knew at an early age that he wanted to be an actor. He moved to Hollywood as a teenager, and his first big break came when he was cast in a small part in a 1941 play, Tallulah Bankhead‘s “Her Cardboard Lover.”

Although he was best remembered as the white-suit-wearing Roarke on ABC’s1978-84 hit series, Montalban was also an exceptional character actor who won an Emmy for his portrayal of a Sioux chief in the miniseries “How the West Was Won.”

Between movie and TV roles, Montalban was dynamic in the theater. He starred on Broadway in the 1957 musical “Jamaica” opposite Lena Horne, picking up a Tony nomination for best actor in a musical.

For decades, Montalban has an obvious Television presence. He appeared in “Hawaii Five-O,” “Wonder Woman” and “Murder, She Wrote” and lent his voice to “Dora the Explorer” “Freakazoid!” and “Family Guy.”

To all Star Trek fans, Montalban will always be Captain Kirk‘s supreme enemy. He is best known to all Trekkies for his role as the genetically-engineered Khan Noonien Singh, the would-be conqueror who first tried to steal the Enterprise in the classic Star Trek episode “Space Seed.” He would reprise the role 15 years later in the film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.”

Montalban was given a life achievement award by the Screen Actors Guild in 1994 and by the NCLR Bravo Awards in 1995.