Ricardo Montalban has died at the age of 88 of complications related to being really old.
Ricardo, Ricardo, RRRRRRRRRRicardo. We will miss you so.
His deep, velvety voice. His love of language. His charm and kindness.
I cast Ricardo in a TV voice-over for Coco's Family Restaurants back in 2001. He showed up in the LA sound studio with a walker. His back had given out. I sat with him in the lounge of that studio and he explained to me his technique on warming up his voice. "You do not shout, like some actors, to open up the voice. You gently rev it up like it's an engine shifting gears." Then he demonstrated for me. Later I realized that he wasn't so much passing on the info as he was actually warming up his voice for our spot in a public way and using the instruction as an excuse.
He also told us stories from his acting career and we, my AD and I, lapped them up like thirsty puppies.
I followed him into the recording room. Little by little by little. His back was really fragile.
After he finished the read, which he of course nailed, he complemented me on the script. "Beautiful words," he purred. I thanked him for doing the spot, as it was basically an homage to his old hit TV show "Fantasy Island," but with food ingredients as the guests on the island that are mysteriously transformed into wonderful, though extraordinarily salty, specials of the week at Coco's.
In any case, Ricardo was a perfect gentleman. I imagine that he was a true gentleman and class act no matter where he worked or where he was. And that's how he's portrayed in this New York Times Obit:
I have to give my buddy Karl Backus (now the Partner at San Diego Shop Blue Horse and Trumpet) the credit for the original idea. And I would like to thank him for introducing me, by way of his idea, to this great man who has now died. I imagine him going to the big fantasy island in the sky, where all of his dreams can come true.
I still use Ricardo's voice technique to warm up my voice before big presentations. It works.