Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Does this casket come with soft Corinthian leather?

Wow, bad day for aged celebrities.

No sooner did I complete my obit of Patrick McGoohan than word arrives of the passing of Ricardo Montalbán, who, depending on your viewing preferences, was either Khan Noonien Singh of the classic Star Trek episode "Space Seed" and its sequel motion picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, or the dapper Mr. Roarke, the ice-cream-suited master manipulator of Fantasy Island.

We children of the '70s, of course, also recall Montalbán as the suave pitchman for the Chrysler Cordoba, famously upholstered in "soft Corinthian leather." The joke was that "Corinthian leather" was little more than some copywriter's snazzy buzzword for a product manufactured in Newark, New Jersey.

I often thought that Mr. Roarke had the most depressing job in the world. He spent all of his time and resources creating fantasies for other people — fantasies which never seemed to work out all that well for the recipients. Then, he'd cluck his tongue at the hard lessons learned when people got what they thought they wanted. Roarke was like a sadistic Santa Claus, albeit with bespoke tailoring and better weather.

To top it off, Mr. Roarke never seemed to get any of his own fantasies fulfilled. Unless his fantasies involved living on a tropical island with a lisping French dwarf. In which case, I guess he did.

My favorite episode of Fantasy Island was the one in which Mr. Roarke faced off with the devil (who, oddly enough, did not resemble Al Pacino) and emerged victorious. That storyline opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for Roarke, who prior to this had just seemed like a wealthier, more inventive Walt Disney. Was he really an angel? A sorcerer? A Highlander? (There can only be one, so probably not.)

Then again, the devil did tell Roarke at the end of the episode that he'd be back to fight again another day.

Perhaps that day was today.

Labels: , , ,

2 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Donna offered these pearls of wisdom...

My first time driving behind the wheel of an automobile was in driver's ed class. I recall it fondly because at the time, Mr. Montalban was pitching the rich Corinthian leather and the car I drove was a Chrysler Cordoba. The first drive was a trip down the Boulevard in Petaluma with Mr. Harp. He was cool and calm as a driver's ed instructor.

My mom freaked out when I boasted about my first drive and where it took place. I guess she thought that a driver's first drive should be in the sedate and mundane location of a vacant parking lot!

I also fondly recall that first driver's ed lesson. My driving partner was behind the wheel and I was the backseat passenger. I recall we were on Olive Street learning to parallel park.

I'll never forget glancing out the window only to spot an older, dark haired gentleman sitting on the steps of his front porch. He was reading the newspaper as we learned the tactics of parking. His first name was Jim, as I recall, and he was a dead ringer for Clark Gable. He glanced up from reading, looked me in the eye, and smiled. I was startled and full of awe as I smiled in return. I knew Clark Gable was long since deceased, but if I hadn't known better, I'd have sworn it was really him. I think Jim has since passed away too. The local Petaluma or Santa Rosa paper did a feature story about Jim once upon a time.

As for the Cordoba, it was blue with a white landau roof, sans the rich Corinthian leather!

4:45 PM  
Anonymous EddieB offered these pearls of wisdom...

Indeed, it is sad that Mr. Montalban will be spending eternity in Hell for his perversions.

Jesus weeps, and so do I.

9:57 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home