DO YOU REMEMBER THIS GREAT MAN PAT MORITA?
Morita as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, 1984
June 28, 1932
|Died||November 24, 2005 (aged 73)|
Las Vegas, Nevada
His first movie role was as a stereotypical henchman in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967). He also was cast as Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka, in the film Midway in 1976. Later, a recurring role as South Korean Army Captain Sam Pak on the sitcom M*A*S*H helped advance the comedian's acting career.
He had a recurring role on the show Happy Days as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi, owner of the diner Arnold's. After the first season (1975–1976), he left Happy Days to star 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. In 1977, Morita starred in the short-lived Blansky's Beauties as Arnold. Morita eventually returned to Happy Days, reprising his role in the 1982–1983 season. He appeared in an episode of The Odd Couple and had a recurring role on Sanford and Son in the mid-1970s.
Morita gained worldwide fame playing wise karate teacher Keisuke Miyagi who taught young "Daniel-san" (Ralph Macchio) in The Karate Kid. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as well as a Golden Globe and reprised his role as the sensei Mr. Miyagi in three sequels: The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), The Karate Kid, Part III (1989) andThe Next Karate Kid (1994, with Hilary Swank). Noriyuki never actually studied karate and only learnt enough for the film The Karate Kid. Although he had been using the name "Pat Morita" for years, producer Jerry Weintraub suggested that Pat be billed with his given name to sound more ethnic.
Morita went on to play Tommy Tanaka in the TV movie Amos (for which he received Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award nominations), starring Kirk Douglas. He then starred as the title character in the ABC detective show Ohara which aired in 1987 and ended a year later due to poor ratings. He then wrote and starred in the World War II romance film Captive Hearts(1987). Late in his career, Morita starred on the Nickelodeon television series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo and had a recurring role on the sitcom The Hughleys. He also made a guest appearance on an episode of Married With Children. He went on to star in Talk To Taka as a sushi chef who doles out advice to anyone that will hear him. In 1998, Morita voiced the Emperor of China in Disney's 36th animated feature Mulan and reprised the role in Kingdom Hearts II and Mulan II, a direct-to-video sequel.
Morita had a cameo appearance in the 2001 Alien Ant Farm music video "Movies". Morita's appearance in the video spoofed his role in The Karate Kid. He would also reprise his role (to an extent) in the stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken. In the episode, he is assumed to be Mr. Miyagi, but he immediately denies that by saying, "First of all, I'm Pat F'in Morita, ya nutsack."
One of Morita's last TV roles was as Master Udon on the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "Karate Island". The episode was dedicated to him after he died about six months after its first run. One of his last film roles was in the 2005 independent feature film, Only the Brave, about the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, where he plays the father of lead actor (and director)Lane Nishikawa. About this time he starred in a Michael Sajbel movie called Remove All Obstacles as a cold storage guru. Pat also took a small role in the independent film, "Act Your Age", filmed in central Illinois and released in April, 2011 . His last movie was Royal Kill, which also stars Eric Roberts, Gail Kim, and Lalaine and is directed by Babar Ahmed.
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