Friday, January 16, 2009

Star Power?

We lost two wonderful actors this week, Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan. My first conscious exposure to Mr. Montalban was as the supernatural Mr. Roarke in Fantasy Island and in the commercials that he did for Chrysler/Plymouth. Although I liked the man I thought of him as another Latin lover type in the Fernando Lamas mold.

Last year I discovered his films from the 1950's on TCM and found them to be a delightful surprise. I'm not talking about the musicals he did but the dramatic ones like Border Incident, Mystery Street, Right Cross, and A Life In The Balance. Great stuff from a dignified, charming, charismatic, talented man.

Ricardo Montalban on the cover of Life magazine (1948)

I first saw Patrick McGoohan on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color playing either Dr. Syn in The Scarecrow Or Rommey March or the father in The Three Lives Of Thomasina and, frankly, found him to be scary with those staring eyes that never seemed to blink and that wooden face and stiff body. Then came Secret Agent Man and The Prisoner (one of my mother's favorite TV programs). I wasn't a fan of either program since I still found the man to be somewhat creepy.

Last December I watched him in All Night Long (1962), a modern version of Othello, play drummer Johnnie Cousin (Iago). The things I found creepy about him worked in this film. He was playing a devious, desperate man juggling too many balls at once, while knowing that, in all probability, they were going to come crashing down around him. What a revelation.

Patrick McGoohan as Johnnie Cousin in, All Night Long (1962)

Now, both men are dead and I mourn their loss. Just when I was learning to appreciate their work, they are gone. I thank God for the permanence of film.

Ricardo Montalban's obituary from the New York Times.

Patrick McGoohan's obituary from the Guardian.

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