Produced in 1932, Pat Morita fought spinal tuberculosis as a kid. In 1984, Morita costarred with Ralph Macchio in the hit movie The Karate Kid and appeared in a number of sequels. He continued to work in movie and television until his passing in 2005.
Born in 1932 in Northern California, celebrity Noriyuki “Pat” Morita faced many challenges during his youth. He got spinal tuberculosis throughout the age of two. Morita spent nine years in a sanitarium, fighting for his life. After being released in the sanitarium, he rejoined his family, but the reunion proved to be challenging. Morita told the La Times that he “wept for four days I was so homesick for the physicians and nurses.”
The Morita family moved to Fairfield, California, following the war. He helped out in your family’s Chinese restaurant in Sacramento to get a time. After high school, he spent time as a migrant farm worker and later got a job with an aerospace company.
Across the time he was thirty, Morita left his corporate career for humor. He fought for a long time as a stand-up comic. Sally Marr, Lenny Bruce’s mom, acted as his representative and supervisor in his early days. Morita occasionally worked as the opening performance for vocalists Vic Damone and Connie Stevens and comedian Redd Foxx. Foxx afterwards gave him a part on his sitcom Sanford and Sons in the early 1970s.
He left the show following the primary season to star in the short lived comedy Mr. T and Tina, one of the first television shows to have an Asian American lead character. In 1982, Morita returned to Happy Days because of its final season.
In 1984, Morita saw his career reach new heights along with his character in The Karate Kid. He played Kesuke Miyagi, a care worker in a apartment building who befriends a young renter named Daniel (Ralph Macchio). The movie was both a commercial and critical success with Morita earning his only Academy Award nomination because of his portrayal of the kindly yet far-out Mr. Miyagi.
Once more, Morita strove for success on the little display in 1987 with the cops play Ohara. The show continued for 2 seasons. In 1994, Morita returned The Karate Kid film series. This time around, Mr. Miyagi takes on a new student played by Hilary Swank in The Next Karate Kid. This new enterprise did not recapture the magic of the primary Karate Kid movie.
Morita returned to playing little parts and supporting roles on television and movie in his later career. From 1996 to 1998, he played the grandpa of the title character in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Morita also gave voice to the Chinese emperor in the animated Disney movie Mulan (1998).
He mostly faded in the limelight toward the conclusion of his life, appearing in several small-seen movies. On November 24, 2005, Morita died of natural causes in Vegas, Nevada.