When Montalbán first arrived in Los Angeles, California, he had no knowledge of the English language, and was initially rejected from Fairfax High School in West Hollywood. He attended Belmont High School in downtown Los Angeles and studied English intensely for hours each day after school.Four months later, Montalbán was accepted to the "more academically challenging" Fairfax High School and carried on the development of his language skills. It was at Fairfax High that Montalbán was first discovered by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives while he was playing the lead role in the school play, "Tovarich". Montalbán's first major role was the 1949 film Border Incident, with George Murphy. Six years later he appeared on The 20th Century-Fox Hour. During the 1950s and 1960s he was one of the few working Hispanic actors. Many of his early roles were in Westerns in which he played character parts, usually as the Latin lover. In 1950, he was cast against type, playing a Barnstable Cape Cod cop in the film noir Mystery Street. In 1975, he was chosen as the television spokesman for the new Chrysler Cordoba. The car was successful and heavily advertised—his mellifluous delivery of a line praising its "rich Corinthian leather" upholstery became famous and was much parodied. He then starred in the television series Fantasy Island, from 1978 to 1984 when the series was cancelled. For a time the series was one of the most popular on television. His character, Mr. Roarke, and his sidekick Tattoo, were pop icons.He played an entirely different role by appearing as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which he reprised from a 1967 episode of Star Trek called Space Seed. He has appeared in many diverse films including The Naked Gun and two films from the Planet of the Apes series. He also appeared in the second Spy Kids film in 2002 and the third one in 2003.Over the course of his long career, he has played roles or guest starred in dozens of television series. In 1993/94, Montalbán was confined to a wheelchair and lives in constant pain. Reports differ as to the exact cause, as one source says it is the result of nine and a half hours of spinal surgery to repair an injury he received making Across the Wide Missouri in 1951. Another says he was left immobilized by partial paralysis after three operations for a congenital condition affecting his spine. He is married to Georgiana Young (née Georgiana Belzer), youngest half-sister of late star Loretta Young.