The passing of Pat Morita, a.k.a. Mr. Miyagi of “Karate Kid” and Arnold of “Happy Days.” Fascinating obituary by Associated Press, noting:
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. “
I linked to the Cnn.com’s version of the AP article, which also included a fascinating video clip of Pat Morita.
The passing of Hugh Sidey, the Time magazine writer/Presidential historian.
Newsweek has a cover article on Charles Darwin, the man behind the theory of evolution. Fascinating article. Almost made me want to pick up my old copy of “Origin of Species” from college to recapture that feeling of “wow, what is this Victorian era guy saying?” (the operative word behing “almost”).