Family & Companions
Diminutive, balding, Asian-American character actor who, despite making his TV debut on the aggressively mystical "Kung Fu" series, has beautifully managed to avoid or transcend that quality of inscrutability stereotypically associated with so many Far Eastern acting roles. Born in Hawaii, Kusatsu began in Honolulu summer stock and, after studying theater at Northwestern, started to make his mark on the small screen in the mid-1970s. Usually mustachioed, with a dapper, professional air, he has most often played doctors, but his repertoire has included a generous sampling of teachers (usually college professors), businessmen, detectives, church ministers and other intelligent, middle-class types. With his quiet, wry line delivery, Kusatsu made a memorably clever and hilarious sparring partner for no less than Archie Bunker (Carroll O'Connor) on several episodes of "All in the Family" as the Reverend Chong, refusing to baptize Archie's grandson without the permission of the boy's parents.
Kusatsu was subsequently a regular on several series, but neither the adventure "Bring 'Em Back Alive" (1982-83) nor the Hawaiian-set medical drama "Island Son" (1989-90), in which he played one of Richard Chamberlain's colleagues, lasted very long. His many TV-movies have included "Farewell to Manzanar" (1976), a story of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, "Golden Land" (1988), a Hollywood-set drama based on a William Faulkner story, and the AIDS drama "And the Band Played On" (1993). Feature roles, beginning with "Battle of Midway" (1976), have generally been small, but Kusatsu was especially busy in the 90s with roles in "Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story" (1993, as a history teacher) and "In the Line of Fire" (1993, as a Secret Service agent). "All-American Girl" (ABC, 1994-95), the first Asian-American family sitcom, marked a return to series TV, with Kusatsu comfortably cast as the protagonist's easy-going father.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Made professional stage debut at age 17 playing the Crown Prince in a summer-stock production of "The King and I" in Honolulu (date approximate)
Made TV debut on an episode of the ABC action drama, "Kung Fu"; made a good impression on the show's producers, and was subsequently signed up to act in four more episodes of the series (date approximate)
First TV-movie, "Farewell to Manzanar"
Feature film debut, "Battle of Midway"
Played the role of the Reverend Chong on several episodes of the long-running CBS sitcom, "All in the Family" (date approximate)
First TV work as a series regular: played Ali on the CBS adventure show, "Bring 'Em Back Alive"
First TV miniseries, "And the Sea Will Tell"