Hawaii Film Blog

Monday, November 28, 2005

Pat Morita (1932-2005)

Veteran Japanese American actor and longtime friend of Hawaii Pat Morita died on Thanksgiving at the age of 73. Best known for his Mr. Miyagi role in the "Karate Kid" franchise, Morita was once a Hawaii resident and participated in a number of productions that shot here, including "Karate Kid II," "Baywatch Hawaii," local television commercials, and independent films. Morita was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar in 1984 for the original "Karate Kid," but lost out to another Asian actor, Haing S. Ngor of "The Killing Fields."

Most recently, Morita appeared in two films that screened at the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival last month: Audience Award Winner "American Fusion," and "Only the Brave," about the the all-Nisei mostly volunteer 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team that fought in WWII. Like many Japanese Americans during WWII, Morita and his family were actually locked up in an internment camp. He entered showbiz by way of the L.A. and Las Vegas comedy club circuit, sometimes billed as "the Hip Nip," a moniker that would not fly in today's striving-to-be-PC media climate.

Morita was a pioneer for Asian American entertainers, and will be sorely missed by them, Hawaii folks, and the legions of Gen Xers who can still hear him chanting, "wax on, wax off."

>> ‘Karate Kid’ actor felt kinship to Hawaii [Hnl Star-Bulletin, 11/26/05]
'Mr. Miyagi' dies at 73 [KHON, 11/25/05]
>> Pat Morita, 'Karate Kid's' Mr. Miyagi, dies [CNN.com, 11/25/05]
'Karate Kid' Sensei Pat Morita Dies at 73 [Zap2it, 11/25/05]
>> Real-life heroes [Hnl Star-Bulletin, 11/11/05]
>> Pat Morita Interview [About.com, 10/28/04]
>> Pat Morita [IMBD Filmography]

>> Marie Lord, Widow of Jack, Dies
>> Ray Bumatai (1952-2005)
>> Kayo Hatta (1958-2005)
>> Actors Get Reality Check

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