Morita in a 1971 promotional photo
June 28, 1932
|Died||November 24, 2005
Las Vegas, Nevada
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (June 28, 1932 – November 24, 2005) was an American film and television actor who was well known for playing the roles of Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days and Keisuke Miyagi in the The Karate Kid movie series, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1984.
Pat Morita was born in Isleton, California. He developed spinal tuberculosis at the age of two and spent the bulk of the next nine years in Northern Californian hospitals, including the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. For long periods he was wrapped in a full-body cast and was told he would never walk.
After a surgeon fused four vertebrae in his spine, Pat finally learned to walk again at the age of 11. When he walked out of the hospital, an FBI agent escorted him directly to his Japanese American family, who had been sent to an internment camp to be detained for the duration of World War II.
He was transported from the hospital directly to the Gila River camp in Arizona to join them. It was at this time that he met a Catholic priest from whom he would later take his stage name, "Pat". For a time after the war, the family operated Ariake Chop Suey, a restaurant in Sacramento, California. Teenage "Nori" would entertain customers with jokes and serve as master of ceremonies for group dinners. Later, he worked as a data entry clerk for the State of California and at Aerojet-General Corporation near Sacramento. In the early 1960s, he started his career as a stand-up comedian known as The Hip Nip, performing in local nightclubs and bars. He also spent time as a member of the improvisational comedy troupe The Groundlings.[when?]
Morita was married three times. His first marriage was soon after he finished high school at Armijo High School in Fairfield, California. They were married for 14 years and had one daughter, Erin Morita, born in 1954.
Morita later married his second wife, Yuki, in 1970. They had two daughters, Aly and Tia. The couple had to deal with several setbacks during their marriage. First, their $300,000 uninsured, Tarzana, California, home was badly damaged in a mudslide. The family escaped with just the clothes they were wearing. Shortly afterward, Tia, their youngest daughter, was diagnosed with kidney disease. Their marriage dissolved in 1982 after two years of separation.
Morita met his last wife, Evelyn Louise Guerrero, when she was 15 years old because Evelyn's mother had the same manager, Sally Marr. Morita and Evelyn met again years later, and were married in Las Vegas on March 26, 1994; they remained together until his death. They did not have any children together.
Television and movie career
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 his 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. Morita starred in the short-lived Blansky's Beauties in 1977 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 and for 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) and The Next Karate Kid (1994, with Hilary Swank). Noriyuki actually never studied karate, and only learned 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 television 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; it ended a year later due to poor ratings. He then wrote and starred in the World War II romance film Captive Hearts (1987). Later 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 who 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 television 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 also 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.
|Wikinews has related news: Mr. Miyagi passes away, Thanksgiving Day|
Morita died on November 24, 2005, at his home in Las Vegas of kidney failure at the age of 73. He was survived by his wife of 11 years, Evelyn, his children from previous marriages, Erin, Aly and Tia, two grandchildren, siblings Gloria Imagire, Clarence Saika, Teddy Saika, Peggy Saika and his then-92-year-old mother, Dorothy Sueko Saika (1913–2009), of Milpitas, California.
He was cremated at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
- The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968)
- Every Little Crook and Nanny (1972)
- Where Does It Hurt? (1972)
- Cancel My Reservation (1972)
- Columbo: Étude in Black (1972)
- I Wonder Who's Killing Her Now? (1975)
- Midway (1976)
- "Man From Atlantis", Episode "imp" (1978)
- When Time Ran Out (1980)
- Full Moon High (1981)
- Slapstick of Another Kind (1982)
- Savannah Smiles (1982)
- Jimmy the Kid (1982)
- The Karate Kid (1984)
- Night Patrol (1984)
- Alice in Wonderland (1985) (the horse)
- The Karate Kid, Part II (1986)
- Babes in Toyland (1986)
- Captive Hearts (1987)
- Collision Course (1989)
- The Karate Kid, Part III (1989)
- Lena's Holiday (1991)
- Goodbye Paradise (1991)
- Do or Die (1991)
- Strawberry Road (1991)
- Great Conquest: The Romance of 3 Kingdoms (1992) (narrator in English version)
- Genghis Khan (1992)
- Miracle Beach (1992)
- Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
- Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun (1993)
- Auntie Lee's Meat Pies (1993)
- American Ninja V (1993)
- Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)
- The Next Karate Kid (1994)
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (episode: Love Hurts 1994)
- The Misery Brothers (1995)
- Captured Alive (1995)
- Timemaster (1995)
- Earth Minus Zero (1996)
- Bloodsport II: The Next Kumite (1996)
- Spy Hard (1996)
- Reggie's Prayer (1996)
- Beyond Barbed Wire (1997) (documentary) (narrator)
- Bloodsport III (1997)
- Mulan (1998) (voice of emperor)
- I'll Remember April (1999)
- Los Gringos (1999) (short subject) (voice)
- King Cobra (1999)
- Inferno (1999)
- Desert Heat
- Hammerlock (2000) (film)
- Brother (2000)
- Talk to Taka (2000) (short subject)
- Diamonds in the Rough: The Legacy of Japanese American Baseball (NBRP documentary short) (narrator)
- House of Luk (2001)
- The Boys of Sunset Ridge (2001)
- The Center of the World (2001)
- Shadow Fury (2001)
- Hwasango (2001) (dubbing voice in MTV version)
- The Stone man (2002)
- The Biggest Fan (2002)
- Cats and Mice (2003)
- High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story (2003)
- Rice Girl (2003)
- Miss Cast Away (2004)
- The Karate Dog (2004)
- Elvis Has Left the Building (2004)
- The Last Shot (2004)
- Mulan II (2004) (voice) (direct-to-DVD)
- The Number One Girl (2005)
- Down and Derby (2005)
- American Fusion (2005)
- Only the Brave (2005)
- Robot Chicken (2005)
- Spymate (2005)
- SpongeBob SquarePants (2006)
- 18 Fingers of Death! (2006)
- Royal Kill (2009)
- Act Your Age (2011)
- "Pat Morita, 73, Actor Known for 'Karate Kid' and 'Happy Days,' Dies", The New York Times, November 26, 2005
- "Karate Kid actor Pat Morita dies". BBC. 2005-11-25. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- Costantinou, Marianne (2005-11-26). "PAT MORITA: 1932-2005 / S.F. comic became 'Karate Kid' mentor". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- Sullivan, Patricia (2005-11-26). "Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita, 73; Played 'Karate Kid' Teacher". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Pat Morita". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- "Archive of American Television". Emmy Legends. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- "'Karate Kid' star Pat Morita dies at 73". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- Champlin, Charles (1986-06-22). "Morita's Long Road To Miyagi". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-25.
- Schuler, Dave (25 November 2005). "Pat Morita, 1932-2005". Theglitteringeye.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- "Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita, 73; Played 'Karate Kid' Teacher". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-05-21.[dead link]
- "Karate Island (Episode)". Spongepedia. Retrieved 2011-11-21.[unreliable source?]
- "Pat Morita (1932 - 2005)". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2011-11-21.[unreliable source?]
- Lipton, Mike (2005-12-12). "Pat Morita: 1932-2005". People.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
- "Pat and Evelyn Morita Marriage Profile - The Marriage of Evelyn and Pat Morita". Marriage.about.com. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Pat Morita|
- Pat Morita at the Internet Movie Database
- Pat Morita at the TCM Movie Database
- Pat Morita at AllRovi
- Pat Morita at Find a Grave
- "Pat Morita, 73, Actor Known for 'Karate Kid' and 'Happy Days,' Dies", The New York Times, November 26, 2005
- Pat Morita on People.com
- 1967 Stars & Stripes Article on Morita (archive.org version)
- Archive of American Television oral history interview with Pat Morita