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May 31, 2006

Ricardo Montalban and Fine Corinthian Leather


Ricardo Montalb?n and Fine Corinthian Leather. It was recently mentioned on another blog and I thought I would share the story as I know it. Keep in mind that I am not an authority on the subject and by all means may be completely wrong but this is how I heard it and, at the time, it was a reliable source. Unfortunately I can’t recall the source so maybe it isn’t all that reliable but it was pre-internet so I think it likely was and is true.

First, the term was used as part of the Chrysler Ad campaign for the Cordoba

Although the Cordoba name was generally thought to be taken from the Spanish city, the car’s emblem was actually a stylized version of the Argentine Cordoba coin. Either way, the implication was Hispanic, and this theme was carried out with somewhat baroque trim inside and by having Mexican movie star Ricardo Montalban as the car’s advertising spokesman. Many remember his eloquent praise of its “rich Corinthian leather” interior (“Corinthian leather” was a meaningless term invented for the purpose, but has since come to designate leather with a vinyl surface treatment that requires little care). – Wikipedia

Here is how I heard the story:

To market their slightly down-sized luxury automobile, Chrysler hired actor Ricardo Montalb?n. Advertising executives insisted that Mexican-born Montalb?n mispronounce the name “Cor-DO-ba” instead of “COR-do-ba”, like the city in Spain. Montalb?n rationalized that one was the City, the other was the car.

In this frame of mind, during rehearsals for the television commercial, Montalb?n ad-libbed a description of the leather interior as “rich, Corinthian leather” . The director and advertising executives loved the way the actor pronounced “Corinthian”, and it did not bother them at all that there was no such thing as “Corinthian leather”. It exuded luxury, whatever it was, and that is what they wanted. And, apparently, also what the American car-buyer wanted, as well. – Everything2

Of course it will be nearly impossible to verify this since even if you asked Ricardo Montalb?n about this, he may not remember or choose not to tell you or even lie about it just to mess with you or to take credit for it anyways. Now I’m not saying he is the type to lie but it wouldn’t be the first time a celebrity was less than honest.

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  • At 1:54 pm on May 31, 2006, Radioactive Jam commented:

    So, protesting against exploitation and/or mistreatment of Corinthian cows – that’s a no go?

  • At 2:35 pm on May 31, 2006, archshrk commented:

    Correct. Cows of Corinth are actually know as Corinthiatic Cows.

  • At 5:27 pm on May 31, 2006, The Blorg » Blog Archive » Royalty at the Pistons game (and some gratuitous linking) pingbacked:

    […] And they have no idea what they are talking about, as evidenced by this post. And, amazingly, some people are running with it… […]

  • At 9:12 am on June 3, 2006, OldOldLady Of The Hills commented:

    That story sounds like it could definitely be true, to me…Where did you hear it?

    Here from Michele’s today, ntw!

  • At 9:18 am on June 3, 2006, archshrk commented:

    There are links at the end of the qouted parts but I think I originally heard it on an TV program many years ago. Far too long ago to remember where or even when.

  • At 1:41 pm on June 3, 2006, tommy commented:

    I’ve seen several different versions of the story as to who came up with the term, but all of them involve it being a completely made up phrase to sound luxurious.

  • At 4:37 pm on July 24, 2006, crabapple.cc trackbacked:

    Ricardo Montalbán and Fine Corinthian Leather

    It was recently mentioned on another blog and I thought I would share the story as I know it. Keep in mind that I am not an authority on the subject and by all means may be completely wrong but this is how I heard it and, at the time, it was a reliable…

  • At 11:48 am on May 31, 2007, NEWS4A2, blood-sucking journalist commented:

    The way I heard the story is that the leather was made by the “Corinthian Leather Co.” An advertising prof told me this and it sounds plausible.

  • At 11:36 am on November 10, 2007, Forward to Yesterday - Bob Westal Classic Film, Movie, & Television Blog pingbacked:

    […] still a little known character from a single episode of a failed TV series; Mr. Roarke and “rich Corinthian leather” were still a long ways […]

  • At 9:08 am on January 15, 2008, archshrk featured on Slate.com | archshrk pingbacked:

    […] so maybe not featured, but I am linked in the article (see soft Corinthian leather). I don’t know how much this will boost my readership but it has already given me a nice […]

  • At 9:02 am on February 15, 2008, Poll - What color is your Prius - Page 4 - PriusChat Forums pingbacked:

    […] Re: Poll – What color is your Prius have the Barcelona red car, I had no choice. But, with that color I of course get the rich Corinthian Leather seats, which aren’t available on the more plebian models. Anyone remember the old car ad with Ricardo Montalban, it’s become something of a cult ad and is on lots of web video sites. I really like the way Ricardo calls the Chrysler Cordoba "a small car." If anyone wants to take a look: Ricardo Montalbán and Fine Corinthian Leather | archshrk […]

  • At 12:55 am on June 5, 2008, The best I can do | archshrk pingbacked:

    […] me squeeze in a couple of favorites – Ricardo Montalbán and Fine Corinthian Leather and You are a Pirate are from my Watch This! category and are both scare and […]

  • At 2:52 pm on January 14, 2009, Rabid Space Dog » Blog Archive » Goodbye, Mister Montalban. pingbacked:

    […] I knew him mostly as Captain Kirk’s greatest nemesis, KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN. But he was also known as the purveyor of “fine Corinthian leather.” […]

  • At 6:02 pm on January 14, 2009, Kahn is Gone. :( - darkmesa pingbacked:

    […] as a science-fiction villain, the host on the mysterious “Fantasy Island” and pitchman for the “soft Corinthian leather” of the Chrysler Cordoba, has died. He was […]

  • At 3:13 pm on January 16, 2009, Chris Hartzell commented:

    Beyond reflecting on the mispronunication of “COR-do-ba” (or the fact that “Corintian” leather doesn’t even exist), none of the posters have picked up on the delicious irony of the Cordoba ads. Why didn’t the ads pitch that the car had fine “Cordovan” leather. It’s for real. And it comes from….. Cordoba!

  • At 8:34 am on December 27, 2018, What the Texas Lemon Law, descriptions of Chrysler cars, and fine Corinthian Leather has in common — Texas Lemon Law Blog — January 29, 2008 pingbacked:

    […] keeping with a somewhat Hispanic theme, the spokesperson for the Cordoba was Ricardo Montalban, Montalban is a Mexican born actor with a very lengthy career (going back to the 1940’s) and a smooth […]

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