16 things you might not know about Star Trek's beloved villain Khan

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Earlier this week, Ricardo Montalban of Fantasy Island and Star Trek fame died at the age of 88. Although he worked on a variety of film and TV projects, he was particularly beloved by Star Trek fans for his portrayal of the charismatic villain Khan Noonien Singh, who first appeared in the TV episode "Space Seed" and later helped revive the Trek franchise as the show-stealing antagonist in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Khan was as mysterious as he was popular, though, and we found 16 things that even Star Trek fans might not know about the lovable superhuman tyrant.

♦ In the first treatment for "Space Seed," there was no Khan. Instead, the villain that would become Khan was first written as a Nordic superman named Harold Erricsen. That's right, Harold.

♦ In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Khan and Kirk never see each other face to face, nor did the actors. "I had to do my lines with the script girl, who, as you might imagine, sounded nothing like Bill [Shatner]," Montalban told the Toronto Sun.

♦ Khan's bridge scenes on the Reliant were filmed on the same set used for Kirk's bridge scenes on the Enterprise. Producers just redressed the set, which is one of the reasons the actors filmed their roles four months apart.

♦ Although Khan recognizes Chekov at the beginning of the movie, Chekov never appeared in the original Star Trek episode where they presumably would have met the first time. His character did not join the show until later.

♦ An early draft of the script would have had Khan and Kirk actually confront one another in person during a scene that lasted a whopping 12 pages.

♦ In another version of the script, Kirk's mission was to calm a rebellion being led by his son. But guess who was really behind the uprising? Khaaaan!

♦ Director Nicholas Meyer told Montalban to keep Khan's right glove on at all times to add mystery to the character. Viewers were left to form their own theories about why he wore the glove.

♦ There were persistent rumors that Montalban's bulging chest had been artificially enhanced for the role of Khan. In fact, the production designer created the open-chest outfit specifically to highlight the 61-year-old's robust physique.

♦ Montalban wasn't the only buff character in the movie. All of Khan's men were played by Chippendale dancers.

♦ Many reviewers, including Roger Ebert, considered Montalban's performance a highlight of the film and a key reason why it was successful. Khan was later voted the 10th greatest screen villain of all time by the Online Film Critics Society.

♦ Montalban's TV performance was singled out, too. Khan from "Space Seed" beat out the original Cmdr. Adama and the Doctor for Emmy Magazine's title of "TV's Most Out-Of-This-World Character."

♦ Executive Producer Harve Bennett had never seen an episode of Star Trek when he was hired onto the film, so he sat down and watched all the episodes. Deciding that what the previous film lacked was a good villain, he settled on Kahn Noonian Singh. Thanks, Harve!

♦ We almost didn't see Khan in Star Trek II at all, though. An early draft of the film featured two new villains instead, called Sojin and Moray.

♦ Khan's wrath almost didn't make it into the movie either. The original title was The Vengeance of Khan, but was changed in deference to another science fiction movie then in the works, Revenge of the Jedi. (Which, as we all know, later ended up having its own title changed as well!)

♦ If you want to know more about Khan, look for a trilogy of novels by Greg Cox that feature his rise on Earth and also his struggles on Ceti Alpha V after being stranded there. The first one is The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Volume One.

♦ And if you're wondering where Khan's name came from, look no further than Gene Roddenberry, who named the character after his friend Kim Noonien Singh.

Thanks to Wikipedia and various Star Trek sites for providing all the Khan details.