I Hope There Is “Rich Corinthian Leather” in Heaven

Ricardo Montalban, may you now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.  First the unimportant stuff.  Montalban was an actor of immense talent.

Although best known for Fantasy Island, and his stunning performance in The Wrath of Khan where he single-handedly saved the Star Trek film franchise, he worked from 1942-2008 as an actor and always did a superb professional job.  He was a familiar figure also in commercials, probably most memorably with his line “rich corinthian leather” for Chrysler in the 70’s which was an inside gag since the term was merely a marketing ploy to describe the leather in the cars.

Now on to the important stuff.  Montalban was a devout Catholic.  His contributions to the Church were recognized by the Vatican in 1998 when he was made a knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great.   In an industry where adultery and divorce are practically a job requirement, Montalban and his one and only wife were married for 63 years until her death in 2007.

In regard to his Faith I will give the last word to the unforgettable Mr. Montalban:  “I found enormous opposition to my religion. It’s like if you want to strengthen your biceps, you lift heavy weight, as heavy as you can handle, and work your muscles against resistance until it grows strong. I had to do that with my religion.”

7 Responses to I Hope There Is “Rich Corinthian Leather” in Heaven

  1. Fascinating post, Donald. I had no idea he was a committed Catholic. He was unforgettable in The Wrath of Khan. (Remember those desert slugs he put in the ears of the Enterprise crew?) I’ve probably watched that movie ten times and will add it to my Blockbuster queue. “I like what they’ve done to my car” is another one of his trademark lines for Chrysler.

  2. In Khan he took a role that could so easily have descended into camp and invested him with a tragic dignity. It is interesting to compare the Khan of the movie and the Khan of the original Star Trek episode and see how Montalban skillfully took the tv Khan, a relatively benign tyrant, and showed in the movie how his soul became completely twisted by the death of his wife and followers which he blamed on Captain Kirk. Montalban could have sleep walked through the role and collected his pay check. Instead, as he did throughout his career, he gave a performance that commands attention. A consumate professional.

  3. Gerard E. says:

    This cat had class down to his bone marrow. Distinguished any role with his personage. Never lowered standards even with spouting third-rate noise on Fantasy Island. Methinks Father Neuhaus has hired him to narrate the celestial audio book update of Nekkid Public Square. Vaya con Dios, Senor.

  4. Tito Edwards says:

    I never knew that he was a devout Catholic. Just his long marriage alone is witness enough of his Catholicism.

    He single-handidly saved that Star Trek franchise in my opinion as well.

  5. Bill Hoogsteden says:

    I remember seeing an interview in which he told of his respect for his father because he REALLY loved his mother and romanced her for their whole marriage. Class begets class

  6. tatoo says:

    Actually Ricardo said “soft corinthian leather” in the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba commercial.
    It was Eugene Levy that said “rich corinthian leather” in a SCTV parody.
    At any rate he was a true ‘Gem” of a man, and will be forever missed.

    “Smiles everyone..Smiles”…..

  7. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Thank you tatoo for the correction. It has been a very long time since I saw the commercial.

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