June 28, 1932
Isleton, California, U.S.
|Died||November 24, 2005 73) (aged|
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (June 28, 1932 – November 24, 2005)was a Japanese-American actor and comedian. He was known for his roles as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days , Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid film series, Captain Sam Pak on the sitcom M*A*S*H , Ah Chew in Sanford and Son , Mike Woo in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo , and The Emperor of China in Mulan and Mulan II . He was the series lead actor in the television program Mr. T and Tina and in Ohara , a police-themed drama. The two shows made history for being among the few TV shows with an Asian American series lead.
Morita was nominated for the 1984 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid ,which would be the first of a media franchise in which Morita was the central player.
Morita was born in Isleton, California, in 1932.Morita's father Tamaru, born in 1897, immigrated to California from Kumamoto Prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu in 1915. Tamaru's wife, Momoe, born in 1903, immigrated to California in 1913. Noriyuki, as Pat was named, had a brother named Hideo (Harry) who was twelve years older.
Morita developed spinal tuberculosis (Pott disease) at the age of two and spent the bulk of the next nine years in the Weimar Institute in Weimar, California, and later at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. For long periods, he was wrapped in a full-body cast, and he was told that he would never walk.During his time at a sanatorium near Sacramento, Morita befriended a visiting priest who would often joke that, if Morita ever converted to Catholicism, the priest would rename him to "Patrick Aloysius Ignatius Xavier Noriyuki Morita". Released from the hospital at age 11 after undergoing extensive spinal surgery and learning how to walk, Morita was transported from the hospital directly to the Gila River camp in Arizona to join his interned family. After about a year and a half, he was transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.
After World War II ended, Morita moved back to the Bay Area and he graduated from Armijo High School in Fairfield, California, in 1949. For a time after the war, the family operated Ariake Chop Suey, a restaurant in Sacramento, California,jokingly described by Morita years later as "a Japanese family running a Chinese restaurant in a black neighborhood with a clientele of blacks, Filipinos and everybody else who didn’t fit in any of the other neighborhoods". Morita would entertain customers with jokes and serve as master of ceremonies for group dinners. After Morita's father was killed in 1956 in a hit-and-run accident while walking home from an all-night movie, Morita and his mother kept the restaurant going for another three or four years. Needing a regular job to support his wife and a newly born child, Morita became a data processor in the early 1960s with the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies, graduating to a graveyard shift job at Aerojet General. In due time, he was a department head at another aerospace firm, Lockheed, handling the liaison between the engineers and the programmers who were mapping out lunar eclipses for Polaris and Titan missile projects.
However, Morita suffered from occupational burnout and decided to quit his job and try show business.He began working as a stand-up comedian at small clubs in Sacramento and San Francisco, and took the stage name "Pat Morita", in part due to the presence of comedians including Pat Henry and Pat Cooper, and in part due to memories of the priest he had befriended as a boy. Morita struggled for many years in comedy, until fellow performer—ventriloquist Hank Garcia—told him to try his luck in Los Angeles. Sally Marr, Lenny Bruce's mother, acted as his agent and manager after he moved to Los Angeles, and booked him in the San Fernando Valley and at the Horn nightclub in Santa Monica. Morita sometimes worked as the opening act for singers Vic Damone and Connie Stevens and for his mentor, the comedian Redd Foxx.
Morita's first movie roles were as a henchman in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and a similar role in The Shakiest Gun In The West (1968), starring Don Knotts. Morita had other notable recurring television roles on Sanford and Son (1974–1976) as Ah Chew, a good-natured friend of Lamont Sanford, and as a South Korean Army Captain Sam Pak on the sitcom M*A*S*H (1973, 1974).He was also cast as Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka in the war film Midway (1976).
Morita had a recurring role on Happy Days as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi (the owner of Arnold's Drive-In) during season three (1975–76). He stated that he obtained the moniker when he purchased Arnold's restaurant and people thought it was named after him, explaining that it was too costly to buy enough letter signs needed to rename it "Takahashi". He moonlighted as a martial arts instructor, teaching self-defense classes at the drive-in after hours. Morita also portrayed "Arnold" as a guest star during seasons four and six before returning as a recurring character for season ten and as a main character in the final eleventh season. He also portrayed the character of Arnold on Blansky's Beauties in 1977.
Morita gained particular fame playing wise karate teacher Mr. Miyagi, who taught young "Daniel-san" (Ralph Macchio) the art of Goju-ryu karate in The Karate Kid (1984).He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a corresponding Golden Globe Award, reprising his role in three sequels: The Karate Kid Part II (1986), The Karate Kid Part III (1989) and The Next Karate Kid (1994), the last of which starred Hilary Swank instead of Macchio. Though he was never a student of karate, he learned all that was required for the films. Although he had been using the name Pat for years, producer Jerry Weintraub suggested that he be billed with his given name to sound "more ethnic." Morita put this advice into practice and was recognized as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita at the 57th Academy Awards ceremony. Weintraub initially did not want to cast Morita for the part of Mr. Miyagi, wanting a dramatic actor for the part and labeling Morita a comedic actor. Morita eventually tested five times before Weintraub himself offered him the role.
Morita was the star of two television series. In 1976, he starred as inventor Taro Takahashi in his own show, Mr. T and Tina , the first Asian-American sitcom on network TV. The sitcom was placed on Saturday nights by ABC and was quickly canceled after a month in the fall of 1976. He also starred in the ABC detective show Ohara (1987–1988); it was cancelled after two seasons due to poor ratings.
Morita went on to play Tommy Tanaka in the Kirk Douglas-starring television movie Amos, receiving his first Primetime Emmy Award nomination and second Golden Globe Award nomination for the role.
He wrote and starred in the World War II romance film Captive Hearts (1987). Morita hosted the educational home video series Britannica's Tales Around the World (1990–1991). Later in his career Morita starred on the Nickelodeon television series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1996–1998), and had a recurring role on the sitcom The Hughleys (2000). He also made a guest appearance on a 1996 episode of Married... with Children . He went on to star in the short film Talk To Taka as a sushi chef who doles out advice to anyone who will hear him. Morita voiced the Emperor of China in Disney's 36th animated feature Mulan (1998) and reprised the role in Mulan II (2004), a direct-to-video sequel and Kingdom Hearts II .
Morita spoofed his role as "Mr. Miyagi" in a series of commercials for Colgate toothpaste; he portrayed the white-clad Wisdom Tooth, hailing Colgate as "The Wise Choice".
Morita had a cameo appearance in the 2001 Alien Ant Farm music video "Movies". Morita's appearance in the video spoofed his role in The Karate Kid. In 2002, he made a guest appearance on an episode of Spy TV. In 2003, he had a cameo on an episode of Yes, Dear, as an unnamed karate teacher, potentially being Miyagi. He would also reprise his role (to an extent) in the stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken in 2005.
Morita died of kidney failure, following a urinary tract and gallbladder infection, on November 24, 2005, at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 73. Throughout his life, Morita had battled alcoholism.He was cremated at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Roles created prior to his passing were included in a few posthumous works. He voiced Master Udon in the 2006 SpongeBob SquarePants Season 4 episode "Karate Island" (the episode was dedicated to his memory). He had a role in the independent feature film Only the Brave (2006), about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, where he plays the father of lead actor (and director) Lane Nishikawa (the film included two other Karate Kid stars, Yuji Okumoto and Tamlyn Tomita).He also had roles in Act Your Age (2011), Royal Kill (2009), and Remove All Obstacles (2010).
The fifth episode of the 2018-present series Cobra Kai (a web-streaming follow up to the original Karate Kid films) was dedicated to his memory.Mr. Miyagi is frequently referenced via archival footage during the series, having passed away on November 15, 2011 (6 years after Morita's death).
|1967||Thoroughly Modern Millie||Asian #2|
|1968||The Shakiest Gun in the West||Wong|
|1971||Green Acres||Charlie Lee||Season 6, Episode 25, "Hawaiian Honeymoon"|
|1972||Evil Roy Slade||Turhan|
|1972||Columbo||Houseboy||Episode: "Etude in Black"|
|1972||Every Little Crook and Nanny||Nonaka|
|1972||Where Does It Hurt?||Nishimoto|
|1972||Cancel My Reservation||Yamamoto|
|1972||The Odd Couple||Mr. Wing||Episode: "Partner's Investment"|
|1973–1974||M*A*S*H||Captain Sam Pak||Season 2, Episode 13, "Deal Me Out". |
Season 2, Episode 19, "The Chosen People".
|1974||Cannon||Chuck Yamagata||Episode: "The Avenger"|
|1974||Punch and Jody||Takahasi|
|1974–1976||Sanford and Son||Ah Chew||7 episodes|
|1975||I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now?||Heshy Yamamoto|
|1975||Kung Fu||Chan||Season Three Episode 58 Ambush|
|1975–1983||Happy Days||Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi||26 episodes|
|1976||Welcome Back, Kotter||Mr. Takahashi|
|1976||Farewell to Manzanar||Zenahiro|
|1976||Midway||Rear Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Arnold||13 episodes|
|1978||The Incredilble Hulk (1978 TV series)||Fred||Episode: "Stop the Presses"|
|1980||Hito Hata: Raise the Banner||Yamada|
|1980||When Time Ran Out||Sam|
|1981||Full Moon High||The Silversmith|
|1982||Savannah Smiles||Father OHara|
|1982||Jimmy the Kid||Maurice|
|1982||Slapstick of Another Kind||Ah Fong, the Chinese Ambassador|
|1983||The Daltons on the Loose||Jolly Jumper||English dub|
|1984||The Karate Kid||Mr. Miyagi||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1984||Night Patrol||Rape Victim|
|1985||Alice in Wonderland||The Horse|
|1986||The Karate Kid Part II||Mr. Miyagi|
|1986||Babes In Toyland||The Toymaster|
|1988||Big Bird in Japan||"Bamboo Princess" Play Narrator||Voice|
|1989||The Karate Kid Part III||Mr. Miyagi||Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor|
|1989||The Karate Kid (animated television series)||Mr. Miyagi||Opening narration; 12 episodes|
|1989||Collision Course||Investigator Fujitsuka Natsuo|
|1990||Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes||Yoodo Toda|
|1991||Strawberry Road||Old Man's brother|
|1991||Harry and the Hendersons||Kenji Sahuara||1 episode|
|1991||Do or Die||Masakana 'Kane' Kaneshiro|
|1992||Honeymoon in Vegas||Mahi Mahi|
|1992||Auntie Lee's Meat Pies||Chief Koal|
|1992||Great Conquest: The Romance of 3 Kingdoms||Narrator||English version|
|1992||Genghis Khan||Emperor Wang|
|1993||American Ninja V||Master Tetsu|
|1993||Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||The Chink|
|1993||Living and Working in Space||Cap|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Keisuke Miyagi|
|1994||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Mr. Yoshi||Episode: "Love Hurts"|
|1995||The Misery Brothers||Judge|
|1996||Murder She Wrote||Akira Hitaki||Episode: "Kendo Killing"|
|1996||Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite||David Leung|
|1996||Boy Meets World||Wise Man||Episode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"|
|1996||Spy Hard||Brian, Waiter in Restaurant|
|1996||Bloodsport III||David Leung|
|1996||Earth Minus Zero||Dr. Mobius Jefferson|
|1996–1998||The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo||Michael "Mike" Woo|
|1997||Captured Alive||Sam Kashawahara|
|1997||Beyond Barbed Wire||Narrator||Documentary|
|1998||Family Matters||Mr. Tanaka||Episode: "Grill of My Dreams"|
|1998||The Outer Limits||Dr. Michael Chen||Episode: "In the Zone"|
|1996||Married... with Children||Bank Owner||Episode: "Turning Japanese"|
|1998||Diagnosis Murder||Martin Gaylord||Episode: “Food Fight” Season 5 Episode 23|
|1998||Mulan||The Emperor of China||Voice|
|1998–1999||Adventures with Kanga Roddy||Various characters||Recurring|
|1999||King Cobra||Nick Hashimoto|
|1999||Los Gringos||The Samurai||Short film|
|2000||Brother||Guy at the poker table||Uncredited|
|2000||Talk to Taka||Taka||Short film|
|2000||I'll Remember April||Abe Tanaka|
|2000||Hammerlock||Un Huong Lo|
|2000||Diamonds in the Rough: |
The Legacy of Japanese American Baseball
|2001||Son of the Beach||The King||Episode: B.J Blue Hawaii|
|2001||Baywatch: Hawaii||Hideki Tanaka||Recurring role as the father of Kekoa Tanaka|
|2001||House of Luk||Kwang Luk|
|2001||The Boys of Sunset Ridge||Charlie Watanabe|
|2001||The Center of the World||Taxi Driver|
|2001||Shadow Fury||Dr. Oh|
|2001||Hwasango||Vice Principal Jang Hak-Sa||Dubbed version|
|2002||The Stone man||Prof. Stevens|
|2002||The Biggest Fan||Richard Limp|
|2003||High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story||Mr. Leo|
|2003||Yes, Dear||Karate Teacher||Episode: "When Jimmy Met Greggy"|
|2004||Miss Cast Away||Himself||Cameo|
|2004||Elvis Has Left the Building||Man in Turban|
|2004||Mulan II||The Emperor of China||Voice|
|2004||The Karate Dog||Chin Li|
Episode: "S&M Present"
|2005||Down and Derby||Ono Yakimoto|
|2005||American Fusion||Lao Dong|
|2006||Spymate||Kiro||Filmed in 2003|
|2006||Only the Brave||Seigo Takata|
|2006||The Number One Girl||Mr. Sakata|
|2006||18 Fingers of Death!||Freeman Lee|
|2006||SpongeBob SquarePants||Master Udon||Voice;|
Episode: "Karate Island"
|2006||Kingdom Hearts II||The Emperor of China||Voice|
|2009||Royal Kill||Exhibition Manager||Last acting role|
|2010||Remove All Obstacles||The Guru||Short film|
|2010||Interviews of Ninja's Creed||Interviewee||Documentary|
|2011||Act Your Age||Tom|
|2013||Blunt Movie||Mr. Miyami|
|2014||Rice Girl||Peter Ong||(final film role)|
|2015||The Real Miyagi||Interviewee||Documentary|
|2018–present||Cobra Kai||Mr. Miyagi||Archival footage|
|2019||Pat Morita: Long Story Short||Manuscript Writer & Interviewee||Documentary|
|2021||More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story||Archival footage & Interviewee||Documentary|
The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts drama film written by Robert Mark Kamen and directed by John G. Avildsen. It is the first installment in the Karate Kid franchise, and stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue and William Zabka. The Karate Kid follows Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), a teenager taught karate by Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to help defend himself and compete in a tournament against his bullies, one of which is the ex-boyfriend (Zabka) of his love interest Ali Mills (Shue).
Gary "Gedde" Watanabe is an American actor and comedian. He is perhaps best known for voicing the character of Ling in the 1998 animated film Mulan and its 2004 sequel, Mulan II as well as playing Long Duk Dong in the 1984 film Sixteen Candles.
Ralph George Macchio Jr. is an American actor. He played Daniel LaRusso in three Karate Kid films and Cobra Kai, a sequel television series. He also played Johnny Cade in The Outsiders, Jeremy Andretti in Eight Is Enough, Bill Gambini in My Cousin Vinny, Eugene Martone in Crossroads, Archie Rodriguez in Ugly Betty, and had a recurring role as Officer Haddix in The Deuce.
The Next Karate Kid is a 1994 American martial arts drama starring Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce and Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi.
William Zabka is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Johnny Lawrence in The Karate Kid (1984), The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and the TV series Cobra Kai (2018–present). In 2004, he was nominated for an Academy Award for co-writing and producing the short film Most.
Mr. Miyagi is a fictional karate master from Okinawa, Japan in The Karate Kid film series. Mr. Miyagi mentors Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce in the films. Miyagi was played by Pat Morita, who earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in The Karate Kid.
The Karate Kid Part II is a 1986 American martial arts drama film written by Robert Mark Kamen and directed by John G. Avildsen. It is the second installment in the Karate Kid franchise, and is a sequel to The Karate Kid in 1984. It stars Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. The Karate Kid Part II follows Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who accompanies his karate teacher Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to Okinawa in aid of his dying father, only to encounter a group of bullies with long-harbored grudges against Miyagi.
Tamlyn Naomi Tomita is a Japanese-American actress and singer. She made her screen debut as Kumiko in The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and reprised the character for the streaming web series Cobra Kai (2021). She is also well known for her role as Waverly in The Joy Luck Club (1993). Additional films include Come See the Paradise (1990), Picture Bride (1994), Four Rooms (1995), Robot Stories (2003), The Day After Tomorrow (2004) and Gaijin 2: Love Me as I Am (2005).
Cobra Kai is an American martial arts comedy-drama streaming television series and a sequel to the original The Karate Kid films by Robert Mark Kamen. The series was created by Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, and stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, who reprise their roles as Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from the 1984 film The Karate Kid. Set 34 years later, Cobra Kai re-examines the "Miyagi-Verse" narrative from Johnny's point of view, his decision to reopen the Cobra Kai karate dojo, and the rekindling of his old rivalry with Daniel. Cobra Kai also stars Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser, Jacob Bertrand, Gianni DeCenzo and Martin Kove, Vanessa Rubio, and Peyton List.
The Karate Kid Part III is a 1989 American martial arts drama film and a sequel to The Karate Kid Part II (1986). The film stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Robyn Lively, and Thomas Ian Griffith in his film debut. As was the case with the first two films in the series, it was directed by John G. Avildsen and written by Robert Mark Kamen, with stunts choreographed by Pat E. Johnson and music composed by Bill Conti. In the film, the returning John Kreese, with the help of his best friend Terry Silver, attempts to gain revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi which involves hiring a ruthless martial artist and harming their relationship. The film received negative reviews, criticizing its rehashing of elements found in its two predecessors.
Thomas Ian Griffith is an American actor, producer, writer and martial artist who has starred in films and on television. Griffith is best known for portraying Terry Silver in the 1989 film The Karate Kid Part III, a role he will reprise in the Netflix series, Cobra Kai.
Keone Young is an American actor. He is best known for his television roles as Dr. Michael Kwan in Kay O'Brien (1986), Mr. Wu in Deadwood (2004–2006) and as the dual roles of Judge Robert Chong and Mr. Wan in The Young and the Restless (2007–2010).
Mr. T and Tina is an American sitcom and a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter starring Pat Morita that aired for five episodes on ABC from September 25 to October 30, 1976. It is one of the first television shows to feature a predominantly Asian-American cast. The series was a ratings flop and was cancelled after only 5 aired episodes.
Blansky's Beauties is an American sitcom television series and ostensible spin-off of Happy Days that aired on ABC from February 12 to June 27, 1977. The main character of the series was introduced on an episode of Happy Days, then set in the early 1960s, but the show is set in the present-day of 1977. The series was a ratings flop and was cancelled after only 13 episodes.
The Karate Kid is a 1989 American children's television series animated series which debuted on NBC's Saturday morning lineup. It starred Joey Dedio, Robert Ito, and Janice Kawaye. It is based on the Karate Kid series of films, and was produced by DIC Enterprises, Saban Entertainment and Columbia Pictures Television.
Yuji Don Okumoto is an American actor, filmmaker, and Eagle Scout best known for his intimidating movie roles, primarily as a villain, such as Chozen Toguchi in The Karate Kid Part II and Cobra Kai. His other films include Aloha Summer, Nemesis, Pearl Harbor, Contact and The Truman Show, as well as guest roles on television series such as T.J. Hooker, Knots Landing, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Bones.
Randee Heller is an American television and film actress known for playing Alice in the 1970s sitcom Soap – one of television's first lesbian characters – as well as for playing Lucille LaRusso in the films The Karate Kid and The Karate Kid Part III, and in the streaming series Cobra Kai; and Bert Cooper's and Don Draper's elderly secretary Ida Blankenship in a recurring role on the series Mad Men.
Atsushi Ii was a Japanese voice actor from Tokyo. He was formerly attached to Mausu Promotion and Production★A Gumi before settling at Arts Vision.
The Karate Kid is an American martial arts drama multi-media franchise, created by screenwriter Robert Mark Kamen and produced by Columbia Pictures. The series follows the journey of various coming-of-age teenagers who are forced to stand up for themselves after being pushed around by bullies, usually their own age. They are aided by a mentor who teaches them martial arts so they can take on their rivals, or prove their worth in a tournament.
Kumiko is a fictional character who appears in the motion picture The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and in Season 3 of the streaming television series Cobra Kai (2021). She is portrayed by Tamlyn Tomita.
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