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Ricardo Montalban deplanes at age 88

Ricardo Montalban, one of television's first and still foremost Latino stars, died Wednesday in Los Angeles after a long illness.

His place in the pop culture firmament has long been cemented on three fronts.

***He played white-suited, benevolent dictator Mr. Roarke on ABC's Fantasy Island

***During the height of his Fantasy Island fame, he muscled up as the malevolent Khan Noonien Singh in 1982's Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

***He endorsed the Chrysler Cordoba and its "soft Corinthian leather" in a series of suave, smooth, inimitable TV commercials.

Above all, he was a helluva good guy. Everyone who ever met him said so. Myself included.

We'll play Ricardo Montalban off with two clips.

The first is a Fantasy Island "mini-sode" in which Mr. Roarke conducts the first ever "Miss Fantasy Island Beauty Pageant" with assurances that guest star Maureen McCormick of The Brady Bunch will wear the crown.

The second is Montalban taking viewers for a ride in one of those tank-sized Cordobas during days when American automakers still ruled the road.