June 28, 1932
Isleton, California, U.S.
|Died||November 24, 2005 73) (aged|
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (June 28, 1932 – November 24, 2005)was an 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 1985 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 on June 28, 1932, in Isleton, California to Japanese immigrant parents.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 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 used the nickname "The Hip Nip".
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 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 in the mid-1970's on Happy Days as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi (the new Japanese owner of Arnold's Drive-In) commencing in season three (1975–76). The story line was that Takahashi had purchased the Milwaukee eatery from the original Arnold but adopted the former’s first name, explaining that it was too expensive for him to purchase the additional neon sign letters required to rename it "Takahashi's". As the new owner, 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 during the 1980's for his work as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid films. The original preferred choice was Toshiro Mifune, who had appeared in the Akira Kurosawa films Rashomon (1950), Seven Samurai (1954), and The Hidden Fortress (1958), but the actor did not speak English.Morita later auditioned for the role, but was initially rejected for the part due to his close association with stand-up comedy, and with the character Arnold from Happy Days . Producer Jerry Weintraub in particular did not want Morita, as he saw him as a comedic actor. Morita eventually tested five times before Weintraub himself offered him the role, ultimately winning it because he grew a beard and patterned his accent after his uncle. After he was cast and although he had been using the name Pat for years, Weintraub suggested that he be billed with his given name to sound "more ethnic."
In the first film, in The Karate Kid (1984), he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a corresponding Golden Globe Award, for his role as the wise karate teacher Mr. Miyagi who taught bullied teenager Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) the art of Goju-ryu karate .He was recognized as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita at the 57th Academy Awards ceremony. He reprised the role two more times with Macchio in The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (1989). In 1994, he starred in The Next Karate Kid with Hilary Swank (as bullied teenager Julie Pierce) instead of Macchio.
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). He hosted the educational home video series Britannica's Tales Around the World (1990–1991). He made an appearance on The Fresh Prince of Belair in the 1994 Season 5 episode “Love Hurts”. Later in his career he 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. He 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 .
He 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".
He had a cameo appearance in the 2001 Alien Ant Farm music video "Movies". His 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 from the original films during Cobra Kai, having died 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|
|Columbo||Houseboy||Episode: "Etude in Black"|
|Every Little Crook and Nanny||Nonaka|
|Where Does It Hurt?||Nishimoto|
|Cancel My Reservation||Yamamoto|
|The Odd Couple||Mr. Wing||Episode: "Partner's Investment"|
|1973||‘’Hawaii Five-O’’||Phoebe||Season6, Episode 7, “Tricks Are Not Treats”|
|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"|
|Punch and Jody||Takahasi|
|1974–1976||Sanford and Son||Ah Chew||7 episodes|
|1975||I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now?||Heshy Yamamoto|
|Kung Fu||Chan||Season Three Episode 58 Ambush|
|1975–1983||Happy Days||Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi||26 episodes|
|1976||Welcome Back, Kotter||Mr. Takahashi|
|Mr. T and Tina||Mr. Takahashi|
|Farewell to Manzanar||Zenahiro|
|Midway||Rear Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Arnold||13 episodes|
|1978||Man from Atlantis||Moby||Episode: "Imp"|
|The Incredible Hulk||Fred||Episode: "Stop the Presses"|
|1980||Hito Hata: Raise the Banner||Yamada|
|When Time Ran Out||Sam|
|1981||Full Moon High||The Silversmith|
|1982||Savannah Smiles||Father OHara|
|Jimmy the Kid||Maurice|
|Slapstick of Another Kind||Chinese Ambassador Ah Fong|
|1983||The Daltons on the Loose||Jolly Jumper||English dub|
|1984||The Karate Kid||Mr. Miyagi||Nominated – Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|Night Patrol||Rape Victim|
|1985||Alice in Wonderland||The Horse|
|1986||The Karate Kid Part II||Mr. Miyagi|
|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|
|The Karate Kid (animated television series)||Mr. Miyagi||Opening narration; 12 episodes|
|Collision Course||Inspector Fujitsuka Natsuo|
|1990||Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes||Yoodo Toda|
|1991||Strawberry Road||Old Man's Brother|
|Harry and the Hendersons||Kenji Sahuara||1 episode|
|Do or Die||Masakana "Kane" Kaneshiro|
|1992||Choose Your Own Adventure: The Case of the Silk King||(unknown)||ABC Weekend Special (TV Series)|
|Honeymoon in Vegas||Mahi Mahi|
|Auntie Lee's Meat Pies||Chief Koal|
|Great Conquest: The Romance of 3 Kingdoms||Narrator||English version|
|Genghis Khan||Emperor Wang|
|1993||American Ninja V||Master Tetsu|
|Even Cowgirls Get the Blues||The Chink|
|Living and Working in Space||Cap|
|1994||The Next Karate Kid||Keisuke Miyagi|
|The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Mr. Yoshi||Episode: "Love Hurts"|
|The Misery Brothers||Judge|
|Lamb Chop's Special Chanukah||Himself|
|1996||Murder She Wrote||Akira Hitaki||Episode: "Kendo Killing"|
|Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite||David Leung|
|Boy Meets World||Wise Man||Episode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"|
|Spy Hard||Brian, Waiter In Restaurant|
|Bloodsport III||David Leung|
|Earth Minus Zero||Dr. Mobius Jefferson|
|Married... with Children||Bank Owner||Episode: "Turning Japanese"|
|1996–1998||The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo||Michael "Mike" Woo|
|1997||Captured Alive||Sam Kashawahara|
|Beyond Barbed Wire||Narrator||Documentary|
|1998||Family Matters||Mr. Tanaka||Episode: "Grill of My Dreams"|
|The Outer Limits||Dr. Michael Chen||Episode: "In the Zone"|
|Diagnosis Murder||Martin Gaylord||Episode: “Food Fight” Season 5 Episode 23|
|Mulan||The Emperor of China||Voice|
|1998–1999||Adventures with Kanga Roddy||Various Characters||Recurring|
|1999||King Cobra||Nick Hashimoto|
|Los Gringos||The Samurai||Short film|
|2000||Brother||Guy At The Poker Table||Uncredited|
|Talk to Taka||Taka||Short film|
|I'll Remember April||Abe Tanaka|
|Hammerlock||Un Huong Lo|
|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|
|House of Luk||Kwang Luk|
|The Boys of Sunset Ridge||Charlie Watanabe|
|The Center of the World||Taxi Driver|
|Shadow Fury||Dr. Oh|
|Hwasango||Vice Principal Jang Hak-Sa||Dubbed version|
|2002||The Stone man||Professor Stevens|
|The Biggest Fan||Richard Limp|
|2003||High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story||Mr. Leo|
|Yes, Dear||Karate Teacher||Episode: "When Jimmy Met Greggy"|
|2004||Miss Cast Away||Himself||Cameo|
|Elvis Has Left the Building||Man In Turban|
|Mulan II||The Emperor of China||Voice|
|The Karate Dog||Chin Li|
Episode: "S&M Present"
|Down and Derby||Ono Yakimoto|
|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 whom is Johnny Lawrence (Zabka), the ex-boyfriend of his love interest Ali Mills (Shue).
Ralph George Macchio Jr. is an American actor. He is best known for playing Daniel LaRusso in three Karate Kid films and in 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, and 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 film, and the fourth installment in The Karate Kid franchise, following The Karate Kid Part III (1989). It stars Hilary Swank as Julie Pierce and Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi.
William Michael 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 character in the original films (1984-1994) of the Karate Kid franchise. He is a karate master who mentors Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce. Although he died in 2011, Miyagi is frequently referenced in the series Cobra Kai (2018–present), which is itself thematically structured via The Miyagi-Verse.
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 the sequel to the 1984 film The Karate Kid, starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. The Karate Kid Part II follows Daniel LaRusso (Macchio), who accompanies his karate teacher Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to see his dying father in Okinawa, only to encounter an old friend-turned-rival with a long-harbored grudge against Miyagi.
Cobra Kai is an American martial arts comedy-drama 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 is distributed by Sony Pictures Television. The series was released on YouTube Red / YouTube Premium for the first two seasons, before moving to Netflix starting with the third. The series stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, who reprise their roles as Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence from the 1984 film The Karate Kid and its sequels, The Karate Kid Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid Part III (1989).
The Karate Kid Part III is a 1989 American martial arts drama film, the third entry in the Karate Kid franchise and a sequel to The Karate Kid Part II (1986). It 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.
Fumio Demura is a well known Japanese master of karate and kobudo. He was Pat Morita's martial arts stunt double in the first, third and fourth Karate Kid films. Demura holds the rank of 9th dan in Shitō-ryū karate.
Mr. T and Tina is an American sitcom and a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter starring Pat Morita and Susan Blanchard 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 five 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 animated children's television 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 of Japanese descent. He is best known for his role as Chozen Toguchi in The Karate Kid franchise. He has also appeared in such films as Real Genius (1985), True Believer (1989), Contact (1997), The Truman Show (1998), Pearl Harbor (2001), Only the Brave (2006), Inception (2010) and Driven (2018).
Daniel LaRusso is a fictional character in the Karate Kid franchise. He is the main protagonist of the Karate Kid film trilogy and one of the main characters in its spin-off series Cobra Kai. He is portrayed by Ralph Macchio.
The Karate Kid is an American martial arts drama franchise created by Robert Mark Kamen. The series follows the journey of various coming-of-age teenagers who are taught in the ways of martial arts by an experienced mentor in order to stand up for themselves after being bullied, or assert their dominance towards others.
Jacob Bertrand is an American actor who began his career as a child actor appearing in the 2009 film Duress and playing guest roles on television series such as The Cape and The Middle. He is known for playing the titular character in the 2014 Disney XD series Kirby Buckets, and Jack Malloy in the 2016 Disney Channel Original Movie The Swap. Since 2018, Bertrand has played the series regular role of Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz in the YouTube Premium and Netflix series Cobra Kai.
Paul De Rolf was an American actor, choreographer, and dancer. In addition to his acting credits, De Rolf choreographed Steven Spielberg's 1941 (1979) and The Karate Kid Part II (1986), as well as the television series Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Kumiko is a fictional character portrayed by Tamlyn Tomita in the film The Karate Kid Part II (1986), and in the third season of the sequel series Cobra Kai (2021).
The first season of Cobra Kai was released on YouTube Red on May 2, 2018 and consisted of 10 episodes. The series is a direct sequel to the original four films in The Karate Kid franchise, focusing on the characters of Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence over 30 years after the original film.
Mike Barnes is a fictional character in the Karate Kid film franchise, serving as an antagonist of the film The Karate Kid Part III (1989), and had a supporting role of the fifth season of the sequel television series Cobra Kai. He is portrayed by Sean Kanan.