The genre has lost two of its stalwarts. Both Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan died today. They were 88 and 80 years old, respectively.
Ricardo Montalban was, of course, Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced superman who conquered a quarter of the Earth in 1992 and ended up fighting Captain Kirk in both the original series of Star Trek and the generally-acknowledged-best of the Trek films, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. He also played Mr. Roarke on the long-running television show Fantasy Island, and a host of minor roles on television for decades. But it was that role as Khan that will always stick with me. He was just so... perfect. It's not just that Khan as a character was a match for Kirk, but Montalban as an actor was a match for Shatner, chewing up the scenery and commanding the screen in every scene. A terrific actor and one to be missed. EDIT: And curse me for a mongoose, I failed to mention that he also played Senior Armando in Escape From and Conquest Of the Planet of the Apes.
Patric McGoohan is perhaps a more enigmatic, but no less important, genre presence. He was, of course, Number Six in the baffling and brilliant British television show The Prisoner. He was also, we must remember, a fine actor of stage and screen, star of multiple television series ("Danger Man", etc.) as well as the villainous king in Braveheart. He won an Emmy for his work as a guest villain on Columbo. And a quick check of IMDB reminds me that he was also one of the bad guys in Scanners. But it will always be The Prisoner that draws me to this terrific actor (he also created the series). To this day, having seen every one of its seventeen episodes umpteen times, I still don't know exactly what was going on. Especially with that final episode. But each was imprinted with his undeniable presence and charisma, and he commanded every scene in which he appeared.
Two giants lost. Alas.
Happy 50th, Star Trek - I was just a bit too young to remember watching Trek when it was in first-run on television (but I was alive then, and it's certainly possible that I was ...