Wednesday, November 30, 2005
New York Times honors Pat Morita in editorial
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 07:33 JST
NEW YORK — The New York Times on Tuesday devoted an editorial observer section for the late Japanese-American actor Pat Morita, saying that he was "one of the last survivors of a generation of Asian-American actors who toiled within a system that was interested only in the stock Asian."
In an article titled "Goodbye to Pat Morita, Best Supporting Asian," Lawrence Downes of the New York Times said, "The movie and TV industry has never had many roles for Asian-American men, and it seemed for a while that they all went to Mr Morita."
"Whenever a script called for a little Asian guy to drive a taxi, serve drinks or utter wise aphorisms in amusingly broken English, you could count on Mr Morita to be there," Downes said.
"But it's distressing to think that the life's work of one of the best-known, hardest-working Asian-American actors is mostly a loose collection of servile supporting roles," he said.
Downes said some Asian actors such as George Takei who played Mr Sulu in "Star Trek" and Jack Soo on "Barney Miller" broke out the stereotype but it "will be a long, long time before we erase the memory of the bucktoothed, jabbering Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's," or Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan."
Downes said Morita has a role as a Buddhist priest in an unreleased movie about Japanese-American soldiers of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, and said his legacy "may soon take a posthumous turn for the better."
The movie, "Only the Brave," was written, directed, and produced by Lane Nishikawa, who was quoted as saying that the movie told its story from the Asian-American point of view, which was "an unusual perspective, by past or current standards," Downes said.
"With its wide pool of Asian-American talent, including Mr Morita, Tamlyn Tomita and Jason Scott Lee, the film promises to be at least different from the other movie about the 442nd," he said.
Morita, whose portrayal of Mr Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, died last Thursday at his Los Angeles home of natural causes. He was 73. (Kyodo News)