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October 11, 1904|
Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan
|Died||January 7, 1970(aged 65)|
|Occupation||Comedian, film and stage actor|
A major innovator during his heyday, Enoken's stage shows, radio appearances, and film roles were a major influence within Tokyo theatre before World War II, and was a catalyst for the revival of comedy in the postwar period.
Born in Aoyama, Tokyo, the son of rice cracker shop owners, Enomoto fell under the spell of such stars of the Asakusa Opera as Taya Rikizo and Fujiwara Yoshie, and in 1922 he made his stage debut at age 18 as a chorus member of the Asakusa Kinryukan Theatre. The Great Kantō earthquake of the following year dealt a great blow to the opera world in Tokyo, at which time Enomoto shifted to comic theatre. Playing small roles in various comedy productions, he returned to the Asakusa stage in 1929 as part of the troupe Casino Folies. The following year saw him launch his own troupe, Enoken Gekidan, which would firmly establish him as a leading figure in Tokyo theatrical circles. In 1934, he starred in the movie Enoken no Seishun Suikoden (Enoken’s Tale of Youth’s Folly), and gained national popularity. His subsequent film career saw him parody a whole parade of Japanese historical personages, including Kondo Isami and Sakamoto Ryoma, in a series of "jidai-geki" (historical dramas) and "chanbara" (samurai drama) films, including some directed by Kajirō Yamamoto, Nobuo Nakagawa and Akira Kurosawa.
Enomoto became afflicted with necrosis of the right leg in the 1950s, which required amputation, curtailing his film and stage career. He did, however, make a legendary comeback at the Shinjuku Koma Theatre 1963 wearing a prosthetic leg. He died in 1970, and is entombed in Hase Temple in Nishi-Azabu, Minato, Tokyo, on whose tombstone is inscribed "The King of Comedy".
- Enoken no Seishun Suikoden (1934)
- Enoken no Kondō Isami (エノケンの近藤勇) (1935)
- Enoken no Chakkiri Kinta (エノケンのちゃっきり金太) (1937)
- Enoken no ganbari senjutsu (1939)
- Enoken no songokū: songokū zenko-hen (1940)
- The Men Who Tread on the Tiger's Tail (1945)
- Tokyo Kid (東京キッド) (1950)
- Enoken no sokonuke daihōsō (エノケンの底抜け大放送 - 1950)
- 「父から子におくる一億人の昭和史：人物現代史」(100 Million People's Showa History, from Father to Child: Historical Biographies), Mainichi Shimbun Press, 1977.
- Kenichi Enomoto IMDB Biography
- Prominent People of Minato City
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