Movie and television geeks of all persuasions were saddened to learn of the passing of actor Ricardo Montalban on Jan. 14, 2009 at the age of 88. Though many knew Montalban as either the mysterious Mr. Roarke from the TV series Fantasy Island or as Armando from the Planet of the Apes movie series, most sci-fi fans associate him with the title character from 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Montalban played arguably the most memorable villain — and in the best feature film — of the entire Star Trek franchise.
This, of course, makes both Khan and Montalban a font of fascinating Geek Trivia.
First off, even though Khan Noonien Singh is considered by most Trekkies to be the ultimate arch-nemesis of James T. Kirk, Montalban and actor William Shatner never performed any scenes together in Star Trek II. In fact, the two filmed their roles months apart, as the bridge of both Kirk's USS Enterprise and Khan's USS Reliant were actually the same set mildly redressed.
Moreover, The Wrath of Khan almost didn't include either "wrath" or Khan. Previous drafts of the script had a pair of villains named Sojin and Moray instead of Khan. When the Kirk-obsessed Khan plot was finally greenlit, the movie was originally titled Star Trek II: The Undiscovered Country (which was a name that would get reused for Star Trek VI) and then The Revenge of Khan (which was scrapped because it was too close to Revenge of the Jedi, the presumed title for the third Star Wars film).
When producer Harve Bennett and writers Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer finally locked down the script, they arrived at a tale of age, death, and rebirth filled with tiny character moments and production touches. Among these, we learn that in his youth James Kirk cheated (successfully) on the famous Kobayashi Maru command test, and in his later years, he became an avid collector of antiques, including a classic copy of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities (from Mr. Spock) and 18th century reading glasses (from Dr. McCoy).
Computing history nerds, however, no doubt noted James Kirk's collection also included a famous 20th century PC.
WHAT CLASSIC 20th CENTURY COMPUTER WAS OWNED BY JAMES T. KIRK?Get the answer.
Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can also follow him on his personal blog.