The oldest memory I have of Ricardo Montalban, is when I was very young, probable about 8 to 10 years old. Back in the 1950’s I remember a character he played on the “Loretta Young Show”. At the first of the program, his character was shinning shoes in the lobby area of a big office building.
It seems that he had been doing this for a long time and one of his regular customers was in his chair getting his shoes shined. I don’t remember a lot about any conversation that went on between them. Seems they were having usual small take that most people might have.
Anyway, towards the end of the show the guy that was getting his shoes shined went to a restaurant that was recommended by someone he worked with. When he got to the restaurant, he was greeted by the character that Ricardo Montalban played. He was all decked out in fine evening apparel, a tuxedo I think and the guy from the office building was quite surprised to see him there dressed that way. I don’t remember all of the lines that they said to each other. I do remember the guy that had his shoes shined asking Ricardo Montalban’s character what he was doing there. He responded that he owned the place. The guy was shocked to hear that and then asked him what he was doing shinning shoes. His reply was that he shined shoes for a long time before he got the restaurant and the reason he still shined shoes was to remind him where he came from and he said he did this whenever he got to feeling superior to others because of what he had accomplished and to never get a big head about himself.
I have never forgotten that and it made an impact on me and how I try to conduct myself towards others. Not that I have done anything special in my life. I have plodded alone like most people, had some success in life and many failures or disappointments as all people do.
I think Ricardo Montalban is one of the great actors of all time and has never been recognized for his great performances. Like a lot of actors from his generation you could see their own selves coming through in what they did. I would really like to meet him in person or be at least able to werite to him personnaly nd tell him how his performance so long ago made a lasting impression on me. Whenever a movies is in comes on TCM or other places, I look forward to seeing them, he is always superb in whatever I have seem him do.