Sorry I haven't been here the last few days, but it's been a heckuva week, starting with the fact that I lost my job yesterday. And today I hear that Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan have died on the same day. I wish I was in the mood to write more, because both of these actors were terrific and quite important to me.
I have followed Patrick McGoohan since first seeing THE PRISONER reruns on our PBS station while I was in junior high school. A fascinating series, made even more so by McGoohan's clipped acting style. Like William Shatner and Robert Culp, he was a television actor whose unique manner of speech made even the most routine dialogue something to pay close attention to.
Fortunately, lots of quality McGoohan is available on DVD, such as THE PRISONER and his other two terrific British TV series, DANGER MAN and SECRET AGENT. The episodes of COLUMBO that he directed and/or guest-starred in are essential and among the best American TV mysteries ever. Also, he was the sinister warden in Clint Eastwood's ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, a scientist in SCANNERS, and the villain in SILVER STREAK. It was a real kick to see him in recent blockbusters BRAVEHEART, THE PHANTOM, and A TIME TO KILL.
Montalban is best known for FANTASY ISLAND, of course, but to me, he's Khan Noonian Singh, the archenemy of Captain James T. Kirk in the 1967 STAR TREK episode "Space Seed" and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. I will always believe he and Shatner gave Oscar-worthy performances in the film, and it's Montalban's operatic Khan, more than anything else, even the death of Spock, that has made it not only the greatest TREK film of them all, but one of cinema's best science fiction films, period.
Montalban did so much else besides Khan and Mr. Roarke, obviously. Please see his 1940s crime dramas MYSTERY STREET and BORDER INCIDENT, extremely rare opportunities for a Latin leading man to star in a Hollywood film during that era. Also on DVD is his HAWAII FIVE-0 episode in which he played a Japanese man. Not one of his finest moments, though how could it have been? Still interesting, if for no other reason than to marvel at the guy's guts.
I will miss both of these men.