Remembering Ricardo Montalban

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Ricardo Montalban November 25, 1920 – January 14th, 2009


Los Angeles, Ca. – On Thursday, Feburary 19th Gilbert Avila and the Chicana Service Action Center hosted an elegant and jovial celebration of life for Ricardo Montalban, who passed away a the age of 88 on January 14th of this year. I had the distinct honor of accompanying my father to this event, invited by Mr. Gilbert Avila, his elementary school buddy.  I grew up visiting 'uncle Gil' in Los Angeles over the years, but little did I know he had done a stint at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and had a lot to do with Ricardo Montalban and the founding of Nosotros.



Gilbert Avila, Suzette Valle and Jaime Paullada at the Celebration of Life for Ricardo Montalban


“It all began in a Los Angeles drug store cafeteria on the corner of Beverly and La Cienega Boulevards in 1970. At the very first meeting, over a cup of coffee, Ricardo Montalbán met with Gilbert Avila, Robert Apodaca, Luis De Cordoba, Val De Vargas and Rodolfo Hoyos, to strategically change the stereotypical image portrayed by Latino actors”, so states the Nosotros website. Past as well as current Board members of the Nosotros foundation were present to honor Mr. Montalban and his unwavering support of the organization to help Latino actors with job opportunities in Hollywood.


Mr.Gilbert Smith, Montalban’s son-in-law, gave a moving tribute to his late father-in-law, referring to him as “Dad”, and recounting many of his personal anecdotes as a member of the Montalban family. Smith also took time to recognize several organizations Montalban supported over his many years as an actor, most notably Nosotros and the Ricardo Montalban Theater in Los Angeles.



Tye Justice presented a drawing of Ricardo Montalban as Khan to Gilbert Smith. Carmelita Martinez, past Nosotros Board Member

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The Latino Walk of Fame presented Mr. Smith with a replica of a Sun plaque bearing Ricardo Montalban’s name which will be placed on Whittier Blvd., the equivalent of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Clips from several of Montalban’s acting roles, from “Star Trek’s” Khan to “Fantasy Island’s” Mr. Roark to the gentle grandfather in “Spy Kids”, were shown at the end of emotional speeches delivered by those who knew him well. Eunice Sanchez, a Colombian actress, remembered how the Mexican actor supported many of her theater productions by enthusiastically attending every show.



 Singers Lupita Fernandez and Moret entertained us throughout the evening


Ricardo Montalban was an inspiration to the Latino acting community, and The Nosotros Foundation is the legacy many will continue to benefit from for years to come.

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