Sayonara Mr. Myagi

by Alan Rapp on November 25, 2005

in Announcements 

Pat Morita best known for his role as Mr. Miyagi died yesterday of natural causes in Las Vegas.  Morita was 73 years old.  For those of my generation Pat Morita will always be remembered as the wise Mr. Myagi of The Karate Kid films, but he actually worked in film and television for forty years on a variety of projects.  Other than his role in The Karate Kid Morita is probably best known for his role as Arnold Takahaski on Happy Days.

For those of my generation Pat Morita will always be remembered as the wise Mr. Myagi of The Karate Kid films, but he actually worked in film and television for forty years on a variety of projects.  Other than his role in The Karate Kid Morita is probably best known for his role as Arnold Takahaski on Happy Days.

Morita broke into showbiz rather late in his life.  Already in his thirties he started out as a stand-up comedian who’s career was managed by Sally Barr (mother to Lenny Bruce).  During those years he landed guest appearances on shows like Laugh-In and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

In the 70’s Morita landed the role of Arnold Takahasi, a recurring role on the hugely popular Happy Days.  After his work there he worked guest roles on numerous television shows such as M*A*S*H, Sanford and Son, Kung Fu, Welcome Back Kotter, The Love Boat, Magnum, P.I., The Incredible Hulk, and Baywatch.

In 1984 Morita would get his big break when he was cast as the handyman and karate guru Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid.  In the film Mr. Myagi defends and trains young Daniel Russo (Ralph Macchio).  The role earned Morita an Oscar nomination – the first for an Asian-American.  Morita would go on to star in two sequels with Macchio and an attempt to reignite the franchise in The Next Karate Kid starring newcomer Hilary Swank.

After his success he continued to work on various television and film projects including being the voice of the Emperor in Disney’s 1998 animated hit Mulan, and roles in movies such as Honeymoon in Vegas, Bloodsport 2, and Spy Hard.

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