He was already a star in his native country when Hollywood beckoned.
After Ricardo Montalban made such a hit, MGM imported another Latin Lover for its roster.
He was Fernando Lamas, the Argentine-born actor-athlete who was Esther Williams’ third husband to whom she was married for nearly 13 years until his death in 1982 of cancer. (He was a relatively young and still handsome 67.)
The “Latin Lover” was (and remains) a time-honored staple of Hollywood — Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro, Arturo deCordova, Ricardo Montalban and on and on — and very few have pulled it off with the humor and grace of Lamas.
Fernando was a bit self-involved and macho, so Esther had occasional misgivings. As she later wrote, In his self-centered way, he loved me very much….His sexy reputation was well deserved and I was the sole beneficiary.”
Esther was fascinated by the way Fernando thrust his hips forward to make it very obvious what was in those pants, which was very substantial. And consider this next endorsement. Before Esther there was Lana Turner, who was often attracted to Latin-looking men, married or not. About Fernando, she once declared that “no other man means a thing to me?”
Also before Esther there was — Arlene Dahl. In time Fernando became known as “First of the Red Hot Lamas,” and became fodder for multiple send-ups on tv’s Saturday Night Live.
But he was the real deal — a Latin Lover.