Asian-American actor and all-round entertainer enjoyed a long and varied career
Actor James Shigeta, star of many Hollywood movies including Die Hard and Flower Drum Song, has passed away at the age of 81.
James Shigeta, seen here (r) in 1961's Flower Drum Song, has died aged 81
In a statement to E! News on Monday, his agent said "It is with great sadness that I report the loss of my long-time friend and client James Shigeta… James passed peacefully in his sleep, July 28, 2014, at 2 p.m. The world has lost a great actor. Sadly, I lost a dear friend”.
The Asian-American actor was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1929. He studied to be an actor at New York University, but upon the outbreak of the Korean War joined the Marines and served his country. Shigeta went on to become a popular singing sensation in Japan, renowned for a Frank Sinatra-like delivery, despite not being able to speak any Japanese at all upon his arrival in the country.
That career in music led to him being cast in The Crimson Kimono in 1959, which represented his break into the movie industry. For that role, he shared the 1960 Golden Globe for Most Promising Male Newcomer. Two years later, he landed the male lead in the film adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song.
But he’s perhaps best remembered for his comparatively minor role in the first Die Hard film in 1988, in which he played the ill-fated executive Joseph Takagi. He also starred alongside Elvis Presley in his 1966 film Paradise, Hawaiian Style, and the 1973 film Lost Horizon.
In addition to his exploits on the big screen, Shigeta also starred in many television programmes including ‘Dragnet’, ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and ‘Magnum P.I.’