Mako Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trade Mark (1)  | Trivia (16)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (4)

Born in Kobe, Japan
Died in Somis, California, USA  (esophageal cancer)
Birth NameMakoto Iwamatsu
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in Japan, Mako was living there with his grandparents while his parents studied art in the United States, when Japan and the U.S. went to war in 1941. His parents remained in the U.S., working for the Office of War Information, and, at the cessation of the conflict, were granted U.S. residency by Congress. Mako joined his parents in New York and studied architecture. He entered the U.S. Army in the early 1950s and acted in shows for military personnel, discovering a talent and love for the theatre. He abandoned his plans to become an architect and instead enrolled at the famed Pasadena Community Playhouse in California. Following his studies there, he appeared in many stage productions and on television. In 1966, he won an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his first film role, as the coolie Po-Han in The Sand Pebbles (1966). Only occasionally since have his roles reached the level of his talents, but he has worked steadily in feature films ever since. He appeared on Broadway in the leading role in Stephen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures" and he co-founded and served as artistic director for the highly-acclaimed East-West Players theatre company in Los Angeles. After a long battle and illness from cancer, he passed away on the twenty first of July in 2006, at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife, Shizuko Hoshi, who co-starred in episodes of M*A*S*H (1972), as well, and his children and grand-children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Shizuko Hoshi (? - 21 July 2006) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Raspy, thick-accented voice

Trivia (16)

Became a naturalized citizen in 1956.
Frequently cast by Chuck Norris.
Children: daughters Sala and Mimosa.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1976 Tony Award as Best Actor (Musical) for "Pacific Overtures."
Artistic Director Emeritus of the nation's premier Asian American theatre organization, East West Players, located in the "Little Tokyo" area of Los Angeles, California, USA.
Passed away one day after being officially announced as the voice of "Master Splinter" in TMNT (2007).
In the months before his death, he was preparing to appear with his wife in an East West production of the comedy "Motty Chon." Instead of recasting the part, the company, out of respect, canceled the production.
Pioneer of Asian American theater in Los Angeles.
Wife Shizuko Hoshi is a dancer, choreographer and actress.
He was the East West Players' first artistic director in 1965. He also taught acting classes there to help pay the company's bills. The company's first home was a basement in a Silver Lake church secured by co-founder Beulah Quo. Later, it moved to a storefront on Santa Monica Blvd. Since 1998, it has been housed in the historic Union Center for the Arts and performs in a 240 seat theater.
Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors Branch).
Received a special tribute as part of the Annual Memorial tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007).
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), Ben Kingsley who won Best Actor for Gandhi (1982), Haing S. Ngor who won Best Supporting Actor for The Killing Fields (1984), Pat Morita nominated for The Karate Kid (1984), Ken Watanabe nominated for The Last Samurai (2003) and Rinko Kikuchi nominated for Babel (2006).
His father Atsushi Iwamatsu who went by the pen name Taro Yashima, wrote the famous children's books Crow Boy and Umbrella.
His final role was as the voice of Master Splinter in TMNT (2007). The film is dedicated to his memory.
Was considered for the role of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid (1984), but had to back out because of his casting in Conan the Destroyer (1984).

Personal Quotes (6)

On the barriers that Asian-American actors have to face in Hollywood: "I go into a young film director's office these days and he says, 'Hey man, I know who you are. I grew up watching McHale's Navy (1962)'. And I think, 'Oh boy, here we go again'".
Of course we've been fighting against stereotypes from Day One at East West. That's the reason we formed: to combat that, and to show we are capable of more than just fulfilling the stereotypes -- waiter, laundryman, gardener, martial artist, villain.
I was a very happy child, so to speak. But, since we didn't have video games or television, and very little radio, in terms of a form of entertainment, I used to read a lot and I would draw a lot, and those two things used to occupy my time.
I had no idea how difficult Sondheim's music would be. All through the rehearsals, I kept flubbing. There were so many tempo changes. I could never get through the opening number without any mistakes. One day, I went up to Hal Prince and offered to leave the show. He laughed it off. He said, 'Don't be silly. That's why we have tryouts.'
No matter what happens, we couldn't let people say Asian-American actors can't act.
I came to America to become an architect. And somewhere along the line while I was still in school, I was lured into theater, and that's how I became interested in theater. My first play was something called 'A Banquet for the Moon.' It was a weird play.

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