Montalban appeared as the Latin lover with Williams in two other late-1940s films, "On an Island With You" and "Neptune's Daughter." The blatant typecasting continued in the 1953 film "Latin Lovers" with Turner.
Director John Sturges gave Montalban the leading role of Lt. Peter Morales in "Mystery Street" in 1950 and, that same year, a starring role with June Allyson and Dick Powell in "Right Cross."
But, as Montalban wrote in his autobiography, he was never cast in the dramatic role at MGM that would have made him a major movie star.
"He appeared to have everything else -- a marvelous camera face, the physique of a trained dancer, talent, a fine voice (he could even sing), warmth and great charm," Kael wrote. "Maybe the charm was a drawback -- it may have made him seem too likable."
While making the 1951 Gable western "Across the Wide Missouri," Montalban fell from a horse and injured his spine. The injury caused him to walk with a limp, which he tried to mask during performances. In recent years, he had been confined to a wheelchair.
After MGM dropped him in 1953, Montalban went on the road with Agnes Moorehead and others in George Bernard Shaw's "Don Juan in Hell," which was revived 20 years later on Broadway with him in the lead. In 1955, he appeared on Broadway in the short-lived "Seventh Heaven" and in the late 1950s starred with Lena Horne in "Jamaica" and earned a Tony nomination.
He played a Kabuki theater actor in the 1957 movie "Sayonara" and co-starred with Debbie Reynolds in the 1966 film "The Singing Nun." Decades later, he played the evil tycoon in the 1988 comedy hit "Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!" and had a prominent role as the grandfather in "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" (2003).
Later TV appearances included the "Dynasty" spinoff "The Colbys" in the 1980s, and he voiced Señor Senior Sr. on the Disney Channel's animated series "Kim Possible," which debuted in 2002.
But "Fantasy Island" created his lasting image.
Elegantly attired in a white suit and black tie, Montalban fashioned such an iconic -- albeit somewhat kitschy -- figure that he often reprised the character in subsequent films and television shows.
The show's executive producer, Aaron Spelling, told TV Guide in 1980 that Montalban gave Mr. Roarke the "otherworldly quality we needed." Many credited the repartee between Mr. Roarke and the character of Tattoo, played by 3-foot-11-inch Herve Villechaize, for pulling in viewers. Villechaize died in 1993.
Montalban said in TV Guide that his character "manipulates everything and everyone. In the eye of the fantasizer, Roarke has the power of life and death."
Spelling's widow, Candy, said Wednesday in a statement: "Aaron was always humbled by Ricardo's gratitude for 'Fantasy Island.' "
Although Montalban expressed appreciation for his success, he complained that Hollywood lacked respect for Mexican American actors. He said that while under contract at MGM, he portrayed Cubans, Brazilians and Argentines, but almost never Mexicans.
"Mexican is not a nice-sounding word and Hollywood is at fault for this because we have been portrayed in this ungodly manner," he said. He challenged Hollywood to stop stereotyping Latin actors by casting them only as prostitutes, maids, gang-bangers and bandidos.
Through Nosotros -- "we" in Spanish -- Montalban attempted to highlight and recognize Latino participation in the arts and entertainment. In 1970, the foundation created the Golden Eagle Awards, which annually honors Latino stars, shows and movies.
From 1965 to 1970, Montalban served as vice president of the Screen Actors Guild.
After the Ricardo Montalban Foundation was formed in 1999, the organization purchased the former Doolittle Theatre near Hollywood and Vine to stage Latino productions and named the theater after Montalban.
Judd Bernard, who was Montalban's publicist in the mid-1950s, told The Times that the actor "was the kindest man, with a lovely sense of humor, a religious man, a marvelous family man."
The deeply spiritual Montalban once said that the guiding force in his life was his Catholic faith. In 1998, Pope John Paul II made him a Knight Commander of St. Gregory, the highest honor bestowed upon non-clergy in the Roman Catholic Church.
Montalban is survived by two daughters, Laura Montalban and Anita Smith; two sons, Mark Montalban and Victor Montalban; and six grandchildren.
Services will be private.
Muñoz is a former Times staff writer. Times staff writer Valerie J. Nelson contributed to this report.