Hawaii Film Blog

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Morita Was Best Supporting Asian

Morita was the title character in "Mr. T and Tina," a (thankfully) short-lived ABC sitcom in 1976.

In a New York Times op-ed piece, Lawrence Downes writes a thoughtful tribute to Pat Morita, who died last week. The piece exposes Hollywood's marginalization of Asian American actors by relegating them to roles in which they "drive taxis, serve drinks or utter wise aphorisms in amusingly broken English." Unfortunately for Morita, whose career began back in the 60s, these roles were the only ones available to Asian actors, and many of them went to him.

But, the times they are a-changin'--slowly--as we now have the Daniel Dae Kims and John Chos and Leonardo Nams of the world trying to work against the stereotypes so long established and proliferated by Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's"), Charlie Chan, and more recently, Rob Schneider's Pidgin-butchering Hawaiian character in "50 First Dates."

Goodbye to Pat Morita, Best Supporting Asian [NY Times, 11/29/05]
The Asian Equation [BackStage West via ModelMinority.com, 8/20/04]

Pat Morita (1932-2005)
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