GOODBYE TO THE PRISONER AND KHAN

Two more great old celebrities died yesterday. First off Patrick McGoohan died. For those of you who didn’t know who he was, he was a British actor who is probably best known for playing Number Six on the cult TV show THE PRISONER, which ran from 1967 to 1968. It was one of the best television shows ever made and maybe the only truly great existential drama to make it onto the small screen.

The plot was simple. McGoohan played a former secret agent (the show he’d starred in before this one was called DANGER MAN, so there’s always been a kind of connection between the two), who decides to leave his job. Unfortunately, the government can’t let him do that, so they knock him out and he wakes up on a strange island where everyone has numbers instead of names and nobody will answer his questions. Oh yeah, and giant bubbles are sent to grab him if he tries to get off the island and bring him back.

If you’ve never seen this show, you really owe it to yourself to rent it or buy the DVDs. It’s an amazing show that will make you wonder why nothing on television now is as smart and good as this.

Needless to say, I was sad to hear of McGoohan’s passing.

Also yesterday, Ricardo Montalban died. He had roles in tons of movies, but was probably best known for two television characters he played – Mr. Rourke, the mysterious host who welcomed people to an island where fantasies came true on a show called, of course, FANTASY ISLAND. I kind of hated this show, though, even though it had the great dwarf actor Herve Villechaize as Mr. Rourke’s assistant Tattoo.

Montalban’s best role was as the villainous Khan on STAR TREK. He first appeared on an episode of the first series called “The Space Seed” in 1967. He then came back in the second (and best) theatrical Star Trek movie STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982). Khan was terrific character, and I wish we’d seen more of him.

My buddy Greg also pointed out (I’d totally forgotten) that Montalban played Armando in both ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) and CONQUEST FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972), two great installments in the PLANET OF THE APES film series of the 60s and 70s. How the hell did I forget that??

Another sad passing.

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