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35 years later, let's get this off our chest about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan



It's been 35 years and still whenever anyone mentions Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the first comment often is: That wasn't Ricardo Montalban's real chest, was it? 

Yes, it was! 

Released in the summer of 1982, Wrath of Khan is best remembered for Montalban's reprisal of Khan Noonien Singh, Capt. Kirk's nemesis from a 1967 episode of the original Star Trek series. The movie returns to theaters on Sept. 10 and 13 for a re-release of a director's cut of the film. 

It's a chance to wonder anew how Montalban - then about 60 years old - achieved such a hunky and oft-displayed chest, often thought to be the work of a rubber prosthetic. (The answer the late actor once admitted: Lots and lots of push-ups.)

Now considered a sci-fi classic, Star Trek II was begrungingly made by a studio that felt burned by the critic and fan reaction to the earlier Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Star Trek II was hampered with a budget just a fraction of the size of its predecessor and by using many of the same props, scenes and stages of the original flick. 

Well, at least they saved money by skipping the rubber chest.

Here are five more things you probably didn't know about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on its 35th anniversary.

1. Ricardo Montalban had to be talked into reprising Khan. The actor was busy starring in TV's Fantasy Island for starters. In the end, he sat down and watched a tape of the original TV episode ("Space Seed") and after three or four viewings, he said he was able to reinhabit the character.

2. Capt. Kirk and Khan never meet face to face in the movie. Neither did actors William Shatner and Montalban, who filmed his scenes separately to accommodate his Fantasy Island production schedule.

3. Spoiler alert: News of Mr. Spock's death at the end of the film was leaked to fans before the movie's release, upsetting legions of Trekkies. The death was originally requested by actor Leonard Nimoy, who reportedly no longer wanted to appear in any Trek films. However, he enjoyed making The Wrath of Khan so much he changed his mind and would go on to even appear in J.J. Abrams' reboot of the film series. 

4. Nimoy wasn't the only reluctant customer in the sequel. Both George Takei ("Sulu") and DeForest Kelley ("Bones") had to be talked into returning.

5. While much is made of Montalban's hunkiness in Wrath of Khan, ithe actors playing his henchmen were equally buff. They had to be: Many of them were actually dancers at Chippendale's. 


[Last modified: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 8:52am]


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