Friday, March 25, 2011

As one gets older, the mind wanders.
Part One.

I've been reading a lot of stuff about Miss Elizabeth Taylor since she died earlier this week and apparently I'm not alone. If you go over to The Other Blog and scroll down to the Popular Posts feature, you will see that four of the top ten posts on my gossip blog are about The Last Great Movie Star, including the most popular and second most popular. That has never happened before.

I read that she and Debbie Reynolds buried the hatchet years ago. I didn't know that. They were both aboard the Queen Mary back when it actually was a boat that went places. Debbie deduced this when she saw an army of porters moving a mountain of stuff, including gowns and dogs and cases of jewelry, into a set of suites and quick as a bunny, Debbie thought "Oh, Liz is on board." She could have tried to avoid her, but the boat isn't THAT big, so instead Debbie sent her a note and invited her to dinner. By this time, both of them had re-married and Eddie Fisher was completely out of the picture, and Debbie says one of things that made her reach out was remembering when both she and Liz were 17 years old and working on the MGM lot and they were best pals.

And I thought, MGM. I thought about how Liz was best friends with Roddy McDowall from when they were kids until the day he died in 1998. I thought about how MGM taught its stars how to be gracious with the public and how well so many of those stars learned that lesson.

As the title of the post suggests, as one gets older, the mind tends to wander. From Liz Taylor and Debbie Reynolds and Roddy McDowall, my brain then flew to... Ricardo Montalban.

The connection is graciousness.

Years ago, back in the 1980s, Ricardo Montalban was a guest on David Letterman. Back then, Dave was a lot younger and his audience was young, hip and snarky. What was their view of Ricardo Montalban?

Fantasy Island. Rich Corinthian leather. That ridiculous outfit he wore in The Wrath of Khan when he uttered the deathless line "I want to keep on hurting you, Kir-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-rk!"

And so Ricardo Montalban strides proudly onto the stage, into a pit of jackals ready to rip him to shreds.

And he was the most charming guest on a talk show that I have ever seen.

He remembered that he had worked with Paul Shaffer on a project and made a point to say hello. He answered questions about "rich Corinthian leather" and he said that people remembered the ads because they were well-written. He even remembered the name of the copywriter on the Cordoba ads, Jim Allardice.

When they cut to commercial, I thought, "Ricardo Montalban is no longer just a punchline to me. He is one of the good guys." To this day, nobody talks mess about Ricardo Montalban in my presence without me standing up for him, because he was a stand up guy.

Tomorrow: The mind wanders again.


namastenancy said...

A zillion years ago, when I was trying to get into journalism (or back into journalism and make some money for the 45th time), Montalban was here for some sort of press junket to promote Fantasy Island. The 3rd string press was invited to one of the conferences and although it was late in the day and he had been at it since 8 AM, he was vary courteous and charming. I developed a huge, huge crush on him (the looks didn't hurt). So, I'm with you on the respect and admiration. He was a pretty big name at the time and treated us "jackals" of the press far better than some no-name actors.
It's nice to have some good memories of actors.

dguzman said...

Love this post, Matty Boy. They just don't make stars like that anymore.