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Mako

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Also Known As: Mako Iwamatsu Died: July 21, 2006
Born: December 10, 1933 Cause of Death: esophageal cancer
Birth Place: Japan Profession: actor, playwright, director, set designer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Born and raised in Japan, Mako moved to the USA after WWII. An architecture student, he got into set design and later acting through some friends in off-Broadway theater and later studied at the Pasadena Playhouse. He co-founded an Asian-American theater company, the East/West Players, with six other actors in 1965 and was noticed by Hollywood shortly thereafter. Mako's first major film role won him an Oscar nomination and remains his most memorable: that of Po-Han, the funny, tragic engine-room attendant and surprise boxing champ in "The Sand Pebbles" (1966), starring Steve McQueen.A martial arts expert, Mako later appeared in many standard-issue action films such as "Armed Response" (1986), "Silent Assassins" (1988) and "The Perfect Weapon" (1991), and played many Hawaiians onscreen, as in--appropriately enough--"The Hawaiians" (1970) and the TV series "Hawaiian Heat" (1984). He played Akiro the wizard in Arnold Schwarzenegger's two "Conan" extravaganzas, but his more interesting roles have been in such offbeat items as "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988); "The Wash" (1988), about the effects of divorce on a Japanese-American family; and "An Unremarkable Life" (1989), as a Chinese-American...

Born and raised in Japan, Mako moved to the USA after WWII. An architecture student, he got into set design and later acting through some friends in off-Broadway theater and later studied at the Pasadena Playhouse. He co-founded an Asian-American theater company, the East/West Players, with six other actors in 1965 and was noticed by Hollywood shortly thereafter. Mako's first major film role won him an Oscar nomination and remains his most memorable: that of Po-Han, the funny, tragic engine-room attendant and surprise boxing champ in "The Sand Pebbles" (1966), starring Steve McQueen.

A martial arts expert, Mako later appeared in many standard-issue action films such as "Armed Response" (1986), "Silent Assassins" (1988) and "The Perfect Weapon" (1991), and played many Hawaiians onscreen, as in--appropriately enough--"The Hawaiians" (1970) and the TV series "Hawaiian Heat" (1984). He played Akiro the wizard in Arnold Schwarzenegger's two "Conan" extravaganzas, but his more interesting roles have been in such offbeat items as "Tucker: The Man and His Dream" (1988); "The Wash" (1988), about the effects of divorce on a Japanese-American family; and "An Unremarkable Life" (1989), as a Chinese-American garage owner who disrupts the lives of two elderly sisters. More recently, he co-starred in one segment of the Showtime TV-movie "Riot" (1997), which examined the 1992 L.A. riots from the points of view of various city residents.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 TMNT (2007)
2.
3.
 Bulletproof Monk (2003) Mr Kojima
4.
 Pearl Harbor (2001) Admiral Yamamoto
5.
 Rugrats in Paris - The Movie (2000) Voice Of Mr Yamaguchi
6.
 Alegria (1998) Cast
7.
 Sea Wolf, The (1997)
8.
 Riot (1997) Mr Lee ("Gold Mountain")
9.
 Sworn to Justice (1997)
10.
 Seven Years in Tibet (1997) Kungo Tsarong
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1949:
Moved to New York at age 15 (date approximate)
:
Was in school studying architecture when friends asked him to get involved with the set design for an off-Broadway production in the early 1950s
:
Settled in Los Angeles after serving for two years in the Korean War
:
Turned down a walk-on role in the Broadway musical "The World of Suzie Wong"
1959:
Feature debut in the American feature film, "Never So Few"
1965:
Co-founded, with six other actors the East West Players theatre company, in Los Angeles
1966:
First notable film role, "The Sand Pebbles"; Earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor
1967:
TV acting debut, "Alfred of the Amazon"
1970:
Portrayed the Chinese contract laborer Mun Ki in the epic movie "The Hawaiians," starring Charlton Heston and Tina Chen
1974:
Appeared on the CBS series, "M*A*S*H," in multiple roles such as a Chinese doctor, North Korean soldier, and South Korean Major
1976:
Made Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's "Pacific Overtures", for which he received a Tony nomination
1982:
Appeared as the a wizard/narrator in "Conan the Barbarian," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
1984:
Played Major Taro Oshira on the short-lived ABC police drama, "Hawaiian Heat"
1984:
Reprised role as the narrator for "Conan the Destroyer"
1986:
Cast in the action film, "Armed Response"
1988:
Co-starred in Francis Ford Coppola's "Tucker: The Man and His Dream"
1989:
Starred in "An Unremarkable Life," as a Chinese-American garage owner who disrupts the lives of two elderly sisters
1993:
Played Kanemitsu in "Robocop 3"
1994:
Portrayed the sorcerer, Nakano in "Highlander III"
1997:
Co-starred in one segment of the Showtime TV-movie "Riot"
2000:
Appeared in the Nickelodeon movie "Rugrats in Paris," as Coco's boss
2001:
Cast as Admiral Yamamoto in the film, "Pearl Harbor"
2001:
Voiced the evil demon, Aku in the animated series "Samurai Jack" on the Cartoon Network
2003:
Voiced Commander Shima in the video game "Medal of Honor: Rising Sun"
2005:
Had a cameo role in "Memoirs of a Geisha," the feature adaptation of the best-selling novel
2005:
Guest-starred in an episode of the NBC political drama, "The West Wing," as an economics professor and former rival of President Bartlet
2007:
Provided the voice of Splinter in "TMNT"; completed his recording before his death
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Pasadena Playhouse: Pasadena , California -
Pratt Institute: Brooklyn , New York -

Notes

He is a holder of a black belt in karate.

Mako is a recipient of the Margaret Harford Award, bestowed by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Association, for his work with East/West Players.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Shizuko Hoshi. Dancer, choreographer, dance instructor, actor.

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