Son of Yhency

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, 1932-2005

Online in Israel last week, I discovered that Pat Morita had passed away at the age of 73. An integral part to the Karate Kid trilogy, I'll always remember him fondly. People don't realize this, but he actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Miyagi in the first Karate Kid. And his list of work -- which includes a recurring role on Happy Days, Chin Li in The Karate Dog, Yip Tak in The Las Vegas Strip War, Oriental #2 in Thoroughly Modern Millie, and smaller roles in Baywatch, Family Matters, Married... with Children, Sanford and Son and M*A*S*H -- is massive, beyond anything I think anyone realizes.

Despite his three brilliant performances as Mr. Miyagi (or four, depending on how you regard that Hilary Swank flick), I'll best remember him for his rendition of the national anthem at a Yankees-Orioles game in Baltimore a few years ago. As anyone who ever saw him in an interview can attest, he spoke without any trace of an accent. However, Morita sang the anthem as I think Mr. Miyagi would have, which I found very strange. Strange, but funny. And I think maybe that's what he was going for.