Kōji Tsuruta in 1950.
December 6, 1924
Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan
|Died||June 16, 1987 (aged 62)|
Eiichi Ono (小野 榮一? Ono Eiichi, December 6, 1924 – June 16, 1987), better known by his stage name Kōji Tsuruta (鶴田 浩二? Tsuruta Kōji), was a Japanese actor and singer. He appeared in almost 260 feature films and had a unique style of singing. His daughter, Sayaka Tsuruta, is an actress.
Tsuruta was studying at Kansai University when he was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in 1944. After the war he joined Hirokichi Takada's theater troupe and made his film debut at Shochiku in 1948 with Yūkyō no mure, gaining a female following for playing handsome leads. He left Shochiku in 1952 to start his own production company. Prior, a romance with actress Keiko Kishi made headlines and Shochiku forced the two to end the relationship. He notably played Sasaki Kojirō in Toho's Samurai Trilogy (1954–1956), opposite Toshirō Mifune.
He joined Toei in 1960, and found success with 1963's Jinsei Gekijo: Hishakaku. In his book The Yakuza Movie Book : A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films, Mark Schilling cites this film for starting the ninkyo eiga trend of chivalrous yakuza films. For the next decade Tsuruta was the lead star of Toei yakuza actors and their hardest working, starring or guest-starring in a film every month at his peak. Memorable films include Bakuto (1964) and Nihon Kyokakuden Ketto Kanda Matsuri (1966). Tsuruta was also a successful singer, scoring hits with such songs as "Kizudarake no Jinsei".
However, in the 1970s he struggled and his performances were criticized when the yakuza genre shifted to a modern more realistic setting. He made his last film in 1985, Saigo no Bakuto. Kōji Tsuruta died from lung cancer on June 16, 1987 at the age of 62.
- Eden no Umi (1950) - directed by Noboru Nakamura
- Ochazuke no Aji (1952) - directed by Yasujirō Ozu
- A Night in Hawaii (Hawai no yoru) (1953)
- Samurai Trilogy (1954–1956) - directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
- A Man Among Men (1955) - directed by Kajiro Yamamoto
- Nemuri Kyôshirô Burai Hikae (1956) - directed by Shigeaki Hidaka
- Yagyu Secret Scrolls (1957) - directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
- Oshidori Kenkagasa (1957)
- Yagyu Secret Scrolls Part 2 (1958) - directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
- The Loyal 47 Ronin (1958) - directed by Kunio Watanabe
- Boss of the Underworld (Ankokugai no kaoyaku) (1959) - directed by Kihachi Okamoto
- The Birth of Japan (1959) - directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
- Secret of the Telegian (1960) - directed by Jun Fukuda
- Chushingura (1962) - directed by Hiroshi Inagaki
- Jinsei Gekijo: Hisha Kaku (1963) - directed by Tadashi Sawashima
- Bakuto (1964) - directed by Shigehiro Ozawa
- Meiji Kyokyakuden - Sandaime Shumei (1965) - directed by Tai Kato
- Nihon Kyokakuden Ketto Kanda Matsuri (1966)
- Bakuchi-uchi: Socho Tobaku (1968) - directed by Kosaku Yamashita
- Sympathy for the Underdog (1971) - directed by Kinji Fukasaku
- Kizudarake no Jinsei (1971) - directed by Shigehiro Ozawa
- Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon (1977)
- Yakuza senso: Nihon no Don (1977) - directed by Sadao Nakajima
- Saigo no Bakuto (1985) - directed by Kosaku Yamashita
- Ōgon no Hibi (1978) - as Sen no Rikyū
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