If you watched the 1984 martial arts drama film The Karate Kid, then you must be familiar with the wise and Mr. A dry-witted Miyagi played by Pat Morita. You really remember Miyagi, don’t you? Daniel-san’s (Ralph Macchio) mentor who taught karate and at the same time tried to catch flies with chopsticks. The role not only brought the Japanese-American actor into the limelight, it also defined his career and earned him an Oscar nomination in 1985.
Karate Kid wasn’t Pat Morita’s first appearance on the big screen; he played Ah Chew in the network-run NBC sitcom Sanford and His Son from 1974 to 1976 and as Taro Takahashi (Japanese inventor) in a 1976 sitcom Mr. T and Tina. Between 1987 and 1988, he appeared as Lieutenant Ohara in the television series Ohara. Morita was the voice behind the character of the Emperor of China in the 1998 Disney animated film Mulan
The actor died in November 2005 at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 73. Find out his cause of death and other details about his life.
Birth and early life
Morita was born in Isleton, California on June 28, 1932, to Noriyuki Morita, California immigrant parent Tamaru and Momoe Morita. Noriyuki had an older brother named Hideo (Harry), but he was sick as a child. At the age of two, he developed spinal tuberculosis which kept him hospitalized for the next nine years of his life. He spent most of those years in a full-body cast and was told he could never walk. At the age of eleven, he left the hospital after undergoing spinal surgery.
As soon as he started learning to walk after the operation, Pat Morita was immediately transferred to Gila River camp in Arizona to join his family. After spending about a year and a half at the camp, he moved again, this time to Tule Lake War Relocation Center.
For some time after World War II, the family ran an Ariake Chop Suey restaurant in Sacramento, California, giving Morita the opportunity to entertain customers with jokes while they ate. Soon after, he began serving as an MC for group dinners.
After a while, Pat Morita decided to try his He had Sally Marr (Lenny Bruce’s mother) as his agent and manager in his early days. In his early days he opened for singers such as Connie Stevens and Vic Damone and even for Redd Foxx. Foxx would later give him a role in his sitcom Sanford and Son.
His first role was a stereotypical henchman in a 1967 romantic-musical comedy film Completely Modern Millie , he reprized the character the following year in The Shakiest Gun in the West , which also starred by Don Knotts.
He later landed a recurring role on the sitcom M*A*S*H as South Korean army captain Sam Pak, which aired on the CBS network at that time. The sitcom helped the comedian’s acting career. In 1976, he played Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka in Midway (an American technical color war film). In 1984, he landed the role of Mr. Miyagi in the drama film devoted to martial arts. The Karate Kid, which earned him an Oscar nomination in 1985.
Pat Morita also starred in Happy Days, Mr T and Tina, Blansky’s Beauties, Ohara. He voiced the character of the Emperor of China in the 1998 Disney animated film, Mul un. One of his final roles was as Master Udon in a 2006 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants titled Karate Island Others are Only the brave, Remove all obstacles, your age. His last film was 2009 psychological thriller Royal Kill, which also starred Eric Roberts, Lalaine and Gail Kim.
The American-Japanese actor was worth $5 million at the time of his death. His net worth basically came from his decades of acting.
Cause of death
Pat Morita died at his Las Vegas home on November 24, 2005, of kidney failure; he was 73 years old. He was cremated at the Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Morita was survived by his wife, Evelyn, and three daughters from a previous marriage. At the time of his death, Pat and Evelyn had been married for eleven years.