Isuzu Yamada in 1937
|Native name||山田 五十鈴|
5 February 1917
|Died||9 July 2012
Isuzu Yamada (山田 五十鈴 Yamada Isuzu?, 5 February 1917 – 9 July 2012) was a Japanese actress whose career on stage and screen spanned eight decades.
Yamada was born in Osaka as Mitsu Yamada. Her father, Kusuo Yamada, was a shinpa stage actor specializing in onnagata roles and her mother, Ritsu, was a geisha. Her family was poor, but under her mother's influence, she began learning nagauta and Japanese traditional dance from the age of six.
Yamada debuted as a film actress in 1930 at age twelve, appearing in a Nikkatsu film, Ken o Koete, opposite Denjirō Ōkōchi. She soon became one of Nikkatsu's top actresses, but it was her strong portrayals of two rebellious modern girls in Kenji Mizoguchi's Osaka Elegy and Sisters of the Gion in 1936 at the new Daiichi Eiga studio that earned her popularity and critical acclaim. Moving to Shinkō Kinema and then to Toho, she starred in a series of films with Kazuo Hasegawa, such as Mikio Naruse's Tsuruhachi Tsurujirō (1938) and Masahiro Makino's Kinō Kieta Otoko (1941), that made her a major star.
Yamada appeared in the films of many of the Japanese directors, including Yasujirō Ozu for Tokyo Twilight (1957) and Akira Kurosawa for The Lower Depths (1957), Throne of Blood (1957) and Yojimbo (1961).
Yamada was married four times, first to the actor Ichirō Tsukita, second to the producer Kazuo Takimura, third to the actor Yoshi Katō, and fourth to the actor Tsutomu Shimomoto. Her daughter with Tsukita, Michiko, became famous as the actress Michiko Saga.
Yamada earned numerous accolades during her long career. She earned double honors, a Blue Ribbon Award and a Mainichi Film Award for best actress, two times: in 1952 for Gendai-jin and Hakone Fūunroku, and in 1956 for Boshizō, Neko to Shōzō to Futari no Onna, and Nagareru. She also won a Blue Ribbon Award for best supporting actress in 1955 for Takekurabe and Ishigassen. She received a Special Award from the Chairman of the Japan Academy in 1995 in honor of her lifetime achievements in cinema. For her work on stage, she has been awarded the Grand Prize (Taishō) three times from the Agency for Cultural Affairs's Arts Festival (Geijutsusai) for the plays Tanuki (1974), Aizome Takao (1977), and Daiyu-san (1983).
She was named a Person of Cultural Merit by the Japanese government in 1993 and became the first actress to receive the illustrious Order of Culture from the Emperor of Japan in 2000. The Order of Culture is considered Japan's "top cultural award."
- Ken o Koete (1930)
- Aizō Tōge (1934) (lost)
- The Downfall of Osen (1935)
- Osaka Elegy (1936)
- Sisters of the Gion (1936)
- Tsuruhachi Tsurujirō (1938)
- Kinō Kieta Otoko (1941)
- Home Sweet Home (1951)
- Gendai-jin (1952)
- Hakone Fūunroku (1952)
- Epitome (1953)
- Tōjin Okichi (1954)
- Takekurabe (1955)
- Christ in Bronze (1955)
- Nagareru (1956)
- Boshizō (1956)
- Neko to Shōzō to Futari no Onna (1956)
- Throne of Blood (1957)
- Black River (1957)
- Tokyo Twilight (1957)
- The Lower Depths (1957)
- Yojimbo (1961)
- Shogun's Samurai (1978)
- Suspicion (1982)
- Hissatsu: Sure Death (1984)
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- Matsui, Makoto (9 February 2010). ""Haha" Yamada Isuzu to no fukai kizuna". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). Retrieved 24 December 2010.
- "2 Nobel laureates among 7 recipients of year's top culture award". Japan Today. 27 October 2010. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
- Bock, Audie (1978). Japanese Film Directors. Kodansha. p. 65. ISBN 0-87011-304-6.