Abundantly busy and much loved Asian-American actor who became an on-screen hero to millions of adults and kids alike as the wise and wonderful Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid (1984), the sparkling Noriyuki Morita was back again dishing out Eastern philosophy and martial arts lessons for The Karate Kid, Part II (1986) and The Karate Kid, Part III (1989), and even for The Next Karate Kid (1994). However, putting all that karate aside, the diminutive Morita actually first started out as a stand-up comedian known as the Hip Nip in nightclubs and bars, and made his first on-screen appearance in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). He quickly adapted to the screen and showed up in small parts in such comedy films as The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), alongside Don Knotts, and in Evil Roy Slade (1972) (TV) supporting John Astin. He also appeared in such popular series as "Sanford and Son" (1972) and "M*A*S*H" (1972).
Morita got his next break playing the often-perplexed restaurant owner Matsho "Arnold" Takahashi in two episodes of the hugely popular sitcom "Happy Days" (1974) between 1975 and 1976, and again between 1982 and 1983. Morita was quite in demand on the small screen and also scored the lead in his own police drama "Ohara" (1987), and guest-starred on other high-profile television series including "Magnum, P.I." (1980), "Murder, She Wrote" (1984), "Baywatch" (1989) and "The Hughleys" (1998). Although most often used as a minor character actor, he remained consistently busy and occasionally lent his vocal talents to animated features such as Mulan (1998). However, his real strengths lay in portraying slightly oddball or unusual characters in offbeat films. He died at age 73 of natural causes at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 24, 2005.
|Evelyn Guerrero||(26 March 1994 - 24 November 2005) (his death)|
|Yukiye Kitahara||(28 December 1970 - 1989) (divorced) 2 children|
|Kathleen Yamachi||(13 June 1953 - 1967) (divorced) 1 child|
Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies
Graduated from Armijo High School in Fairfield, California.
Was often billed as the Hip Nip for his stand-up performances.
Was a fan of the Green Bay Packers football team.
Diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis as a child and was told that he would never walk. Spent nine years in hospitals.
Was the first American-born Asian nominated for an Academy Award. It was for his role of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid (1984).
Had two daughters with Yukiye Kitahara and one with Kathleen Yamachi.
Was the subject of a popular Internet myth, that he owned a Japanese-style restaurant called Miyagi's on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, California. However, according to Morita himself in an about.com interview, this was just a myth and he had nothing to do with the restaurant.
Buried at Palm Green Valley Memorial Park in Clark County, 6701 North Jones, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
One of eight actors of Asian descent nominated for an Academy Award in an acting category. The others are Miyoshi Umeki who won Best Supporting Actress nominated for Sayonara (1957), Sessue Hayakawa nominated for The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Mako nominated for The Sand Pebbles (1966), Ben Kingsley who won Best Actor for Gandhi (1982), Haing S. Ngor who won Best Supporting Actor for The Killing Fields (1984), Ken Watanabe nominated for The Last Samurai (2003) and Rinko Kikuchi nominated for Babel (2006).
His real accent is American, when playing Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movies, he used a faux Japanese accent.
The scene that sealed his nomination for best supporting actor in The Karate Kid (1984), in which Miyagi gets drunk and weeps over the death of his wife and child in the Manzanar Internment Camp was nearly cut out of the film. The studio thought the scene was unnecessary and wanted it cut. But director John G. Avildsen argued that the scene was important to Miyagi's character and finally the studio relented and allowed the scene to be kept in. Also, during the casting of the film, the studio wanted legendary Japanese actor Toshirô Mifune to play Miyagi but Avildsen and producer Jerry Weintraub thought Mifune's interpretation of the character was far too serious for what the film needed.
Was a closet alcoholic. Heavy drinking, which his doctors urged him against, was the primary cause of Morita's death.
He and his family were placed in an internment camp during World War II. Was given the name "Pat" by his priest.
Received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6633 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
One of only 4 actors to receive a Razzie nomination for portraying a character they were previously Oscar-nominated for. The others are Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire and Burt Young (all for Rocky IV (1985) and Rocky V (1990)).
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