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January 16, 2009

Gentlemen

Montalban McGoohan As you probably heard, we lost two good ones this week: Ricardo Montalban and  Patrick McGoohan. They had a lot in common: they both played iconic pop culture characters (Khan and The Prisoner); they were immigrants (although McGoohan was born in Queens -- who knew?) who "made it" in Hollywood; and both were remembered fondly at their passing.

But the similarities went beyond that -- they were both Christian (Papist Division) gentlemen whose faith was noted in their obituaries. Montalban was married to his wife for 63 years (!) before her death and McGoohan had been married for 57 years at the time of his.

Montalban received of one the highest honors a Catholic laymen can be bestowed: he was made a Knight in the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He made it clear that his faith was the most important thing in his life. During the '70s, when the sexual revolution was in its heyday, he spoke of the importance of fidelity and life-long commitment. He was a well-known pro-lifer and was described as a "religious and moral anchor for many in the Hollywood scene."

McGoohan created one of the most memorable television series in history, The Prisoner. Yet in some ways, McGoohan is better known for the roles he turned down than the ones he played. One of these was Bond, James Bond. Why? On account of his faith. As his obit in the Washington Post tells us, "Mr. McGoohan, a married and devout Catholic, insisted on avoiding Bond's womanizing or cold violence."

Describing his other iconic role, John Drake of Danger Man, a.k.a., "Secret Agent Man," McGoohan had this to say:

"When Drake fights, he fights clean," Mr. McGoohan once explained. "He abhors bloodshed. He carries a gun, but doesn't use it unless necessary -- and then he doesn't shoot to kill. He prefers to use his wits. He is a person with a sophisticated background and a philosophy. I want Drake to be in the heroic mold, like the classic Western hero -- which means he has to be a good man."

How good? He conditioned his continued participation on Danger Man on all kissing being removed. He already had a wife, and apparently that was good enough for him.

Perhaps because he understood what makes a hero, McGoohan also could play the villain. My, could he play the villain! His Longshanks (Edward I) in Braveheart was one villainous villain, complete with defenestration. 

As they say, we probably will never see the likes of Montalban and McGoohan again. Watch The Prisoner, join me in yelling "Khaaaaaaaaaan!" and thank God we had them as long as we did.

Requiescant in Pace

(Image courtesy of MyFox Philadelphia)

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Comments

labrialumn

Roberto, I did not know this about these two. Thank you so much for bringing this to light.

David Bunn

Great tributues to great men who found a way to work in the entertainment world without compromising their beliefs and morals.

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