24 May 1926|
Ōkubo, Tokyo, Japan
|Died||16 December 2015
Noboru Ando (安藤 昇 Andō Noboru, 24 May 1926 – 16 December 2015) was a Japanese actor and former yakuza. He is known for utilizing his experiences as a criminal in his many roles in yakuza films. He had a large knife scar on his left cheek, the result of a brawl with a Korean gangster as a young man.
Life and career
Noboru Ando was born in Higashi, Ōkubo, Tokyo, the oldest of four children to a father of samurai descent. After going to primary school in Yokohama he entered junior high in Manchuria, where his father was working, but returned to Tokyo to live with relatives when he was expelled. He was expelled from another school after only three months and began running with other delinquents, before being sent to a reformatory school for theft. He entered the military for pilot training in 1943 and in 1945 volunteered for a suicide frogman unit, though the war ended before he saw action. When he returned to Tokyo, he entered Hosei University, although he continued his gangster behavior and dropped out in 1948.
Ando formed his own yakuza family in 1952, that was mainly composed of bad-boy former college kids. With more than 300 members at its peak, the group operated in the Shibuya district. They had legitimate real estate and entertainment companies such as night clubs. In June 1958, a hitman sent by Ando shot businessman Hideki Yokoi. Yokoi had insulted Ando when his gang were hired to collect a debt Yokoi owed. Ando was arrested in Hayama after 35 days on the run and served six years in prison. When he was released in December 1964, he formally dissolved his yakuza family citing the death of one of his friends.
Soon after disbanding his gang, Ando was approached by a producer from Shochiku. He had his first acting role in 1965's Blood and Rules, a film about himself. According to Ando, acting came easily to him as a result of his underworld life: "In Japanese, the only difference between yakuza and yakusha (actor) is one hiragana character," he has been quoted as saying. "All yakuza have to be actors to survive." He starred in three films by Tai Kato; A Man's Face Shows His Personal History, Opium Heights: Hell Squad Attack (both 1966), and 1967's Sentence: Eighteen Years. In 1967, Koji Shundo, a producer at Toei and former yakuza himself, lured Ando to Toei. He appeared in a total of 51 Toei films including Teruo Ishii's Abashiri Bangaichi: Fubuki no Toso (1967) and Gendai Ninkyoshi (1973), and Kinji Fukasaku's Nihon Boryokudan: Kumicho (1969), Sympathy for the Underdog (1971), Street Mobster (1972), New Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1974) and Graveyard of Honor (1975).
Through the years he starred in several more films detailing his and his yakuza family's history, including Ando Noboru no Waga Tobou to Sex no Kiroku (1976), which depicted his sexual escapades while on the run from police. After appearing in Sadao Nakajima's The Big Boss's Head in 1979, Ando largely retired from acting. He occasionally served as producer, such as on 1988's Bruise by Shunichi Kajima, and wrote novels. He resumed acting in 1997, this time in straight to video films. In 2002, he served as supervisor on Takashi Miike's Deadly Outlaw: Rekka, which is loosely based on the actor's experiences.
He died of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital at the age of 89.
- Chi to Okite (血と掟, "Blood and Rules") (1965)
- A Man's Face Shows His Personal History (男の顔は履歴書) (1966)
- Abashiri Bangaichi: Fubuki no Toso (1967)
- Nihon Boryokudan: Kumicho (1969)
- The Wolves (1971)
- Sympathy for the Underdog (1971)
- Street Mobster (1972)
- Jitsuroku Ando-gumi Shugekihen ("The True Story of the Ando Gang: Attack") (1973)
- Ando-gumi Gaiden Hitokiri Shatei ("The Untold Story of the Ando Gang: The Killer Brother") (1974)
- New Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1974)
- Graveyard of Honor (1975)
- Ando Noboru no Waga Tobou to Sex no Kiroku (1976)
- The True Face of Shinjuku: The Story of the Shinjuku Delinquent Gangs (1997)
- The True History of the Ando Gang: Rules of the Starving Wolf (2002)