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Pat Morita is Dead at 73

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Pat Morita is Dead at 73

Old 11-25-05, 09:47 AM
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Pat Morita is Dead at 73

LOS ANGELES - Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.

Morita died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes, said his wife of 12 years, Evelyn. She said in a statement that her husband, who first rose to fame with a role on "Happy Days," had "dedicated his entire life to acting and comedy."

In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san," he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as "wax on, wax off" to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.

Morita said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press he was billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in the film because producer Jerry Weintraub wanted him to sound more ethnic. He said he used the billing because it was "the only name my parents gave me."

He lost the 1984 best supporting actor award to Haing S. Ngor, who appeared in "The Killing Fields."

For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."

"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.

Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.

Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.

"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."

After the war, Morita's family tried to repair their finances by operating a Sacramento restaurant. It was there that Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.

Because prospects for a Japanese-American standup comic seemed poor, Morita found steady work in computers at Aerojet General. But at age 30 he entered show business full time.

"Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did," he commented. "If I tried it in Japan before the war, it would have been considered blasphemy, and I would have ended in leg irons. "

Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.
Old 11-25-05, 09:57 AM
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"Wax on, wax off."

Sad day, he'll be missed.
Old 11-25-05, 10:22 AM
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RIP
Old 11-25-05, 10:34 AM
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great guy. too bad
Old 11-25-05, 10:40 AM
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Old 11-25-05, 10:49 AM
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"Always remember to breathe, Daniel-san. No breathe, no life."

From the original Arnold (Happy Days) to Karate Kid (Miyagi) to Mulan (Emporer)... While it may seem stero-typical roles, I thought he brought a great dignity to each of those parts. He'll be missed. R.I.P.
Old 11-25-05, 10:49 AM
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Very sad news.
RIP
Old 11-25-05, 11:02 AM
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May you rest in peace, Mr. Miyagi.
Old 11-25-05, 11:25 AM
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I actually had a funny story with him. My parent's have a rental house, and one of their tenants owned a limo company. I told her, if you ever pick up anyone famous, call me, I wanna come. So the only famous person she ever picked up while living at my parent's rental house was Pat Morita. As we picked him up, shocked that I was seeing Arnold/Miyagi, I said, "you're Pat Morita." I will never forget what he said, "YA THINK!!??" almost angry but of course joking....what a good guy.....
Old 11-25-05, 11:41 AM
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I still remember watching Sacramentio Kings highlights on SportsCenter last year and they showed Pat sitting courtside and one of the announcers said "Wax on, wax off Mr. Miyagi."

R.I.P. Mr Miyagi.
Old 11-25-05, 11:45 AM
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"You beginna luck."


For anyone who grew up in the 80's, this really sucks. Mr. Miyagi is and will always be an icon, and that's not hyperbole. I'm just thankful he was able to contribute last year to the 20th anniversary DVD for The Karate Kid.

He'll be missed. R.I.P. Noriyuki Pat.
Old 11-25-05, 11:58 AM
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R.i.p.
Old 11-25-05, 12:12 PM
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R.I.P. Pat Morita.
Old 11-25-05, 12:13 PM
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Did Johnny and Kobra Kai finally get their revenge??

RIP
Old 11-25-05, 12:18 PM
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Bad news indeed. Thanks for your gifts, my man.
Old 11-25-05, 12:41 PM
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Sad indeed
Old 11-25-05, 02:27 PM
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Very sad news...hope Jay Leno says something about him tonight as they worked together on the classic film "Crash Course."
Old 11-25-05, 02:46 PM
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Miyagisan.
Old 11-25-05, 04:57 PM
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Very sad, he'll be missed
Old 11-25-05, 06:10 PM
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That blows. He'll definitely be missed.
Old 11-25-05, 08:40 PM
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He will be missed, he was a great guy. Loved his work.
Old 11-25-05, 08:44 PM
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Sad news...I just watched him in High Roller: Stu Unger Story the other day...
Old 11-25-05, 08:56 PM
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Rip
Old 11-25-05, 09:05 PM
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Man who catch fly with chopsticks accomplish anything.
Old 11-26-05, 02:14 AM
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There aren't too many scenes that are cooler than Mr. Miyagi confronting Kreese in the Cobra Kai dojo and laying down the challenge.

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