Thursday, January 15, 2009


I was sorry to learn of the death of two of the men who are partly responsible for my career choice, Ricardo Montalban and Patrick McGoohan.

I was a fan of Star Trek in my formative years, and Ricardo Montalban's Khan was one amazing character, what with being completely alpha and the ponytail and all. Sadly, he was evil -- but talk about yer proto-type villain-who-could-have-been-a-hero. And as a writer of historical romance, I love the storyline of that episode, where the ship's historian (huh???? but who cares!) falls in love with a guy from the past. I mean, it's like the football star noticing the nerdy history-lovin' girl.

In the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, which I think was one of the better Star Trek films in no small part because it was based on an actual episode, he was still a great villain -- an excellent example of the bitter villain with a grudge. And then there was that costume. Oh. My.

Patrick McGoohan also passed away yesterday. All the obits are mentioning his role in The Prisoner (that blob thing gave me the complete heebie jeebies), but it wasn't that role that influenced this writer. It was his role in a Disney film.

In The Three Lives of Thomasina, PM plays a bitter vet whose wife has died. His daughter has a cat, named Thomasina, who narrates the films. Thomasina is injured and the dad decides she must be put down. The kids stage a funeral. The cat goes to an Egyptian-themed Kitty Heaven -- then back to earth when Thomasina is found by a woman who lives in a stone cottage in the woods and who's reputed to be a witch with mad healing skillz. Because she's the local holistic animal healer, the vet takes exception and sparks fly. Later, the girl sees Thomasina (who's had kitty amnesia) and runs after her in a rain storm. She gets very sick and might die. The dad's beside himself, and either sends for or allows the Holistic Healer to help. Girl recovers, dad and HH get married.

I got the video of this just about as soon as we got a VCR. I'm going to dig it out today and watch it as I treadmill.

What was it about these actors and those roles? Well, I note that with Khan and the vet, they're playing bitter men with chips on their shoulders (one has lost his empire, the other his beloved wife -- although Khan also loses his beloved wife). Those characters aren't exactly unusual. I think what made these actors stand out was the way they showed that their characters were seething with emotion, yet keeping their emotions under control with their iron will.

I often write heroes who are like this - men who are passionate, emotional beings, but for reasons that depend on each individual character, are determined not to show it. They want the world to perceive them as tough, cold, unfeeling...and it takes a strong, interesting and somewhat stubbornly persistent heroine to break through.

So I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for both actors, who surely had no idea of the influence they were having on a little Canadian girl.


Kara said...

I am a big fan of the old Star Trek series too. Although my favorite movie was the one with the whales. I did think Ricardo was an excellent Khan!!

The Three Lives of Thomasina sounds like a good movie...will have to see if I can dig up a copy.

Michelle Styles said...

Oh I didn't know about Ricardo but he was excellent.

I adored McGoohan in Thomasina and in Dr Syn and the Scarecrow. Neither of which were mentioned in the obits. Have you read the books? The book of Thomasina is better, but the movie was lovely.
And Dr Syn of course is to die for.
Because of the movie, we ended up staying at the Mermaid Inn in Rye with its smugglar's staric ases and ahunted rooms.