Asian-Pacific actor and 'Die Hard' star James Shigeta dies at 81
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/30/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Actor James Shigeta, whose most recent high-profile acting role was in the original "Die Hard" entry, has passed away at the age of 81. Shigeta was a highly active Asian-American actor who paved the way for others, and had a 50-year-plus career that stretched all the way from "Flower Drum Song" to his final film role in 2009.
Actor James Shigeta as he appeared in his first major screen role, "Flower Drum Song."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to his agent, Shigeta died in his sleep in Los Angeles.
"It is with great sadness that I report the loss of my longtime friend and client," Shigeta's agent said. "James was the biggest East Asian U.S. star the country had known . The world has lost another wonderful actor, sadly I lost a dear friend."
Shigeta starred with Bruce Willis in 1988's "Die Hard," in which he played the executive Joseph Takagi. He is considered one of the first Asian-American actors to rise to prominence.
Shigeta was born in Hawaii and went on to study acting at New York University before joining the Marines. According to Variety, his big-screen debut came with the 1959 crime drama "The Crimson Kimono," in which he played a detective named Joe Kojaku. The Golden Globes gave the actor the "new star of the year" award the following year.
Other notable roles included "Bridge to the Sun" (1961), "Midway" (1976), and the Oscar-nominated adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song" (1961). According to The Hollywood Reporter, Shigeta, who was also a singer, did all his own singing in that film. Younger generations were introduced to his voice in the 1998 animated movie "Mulan," in which Shigeta played General Li.
Shigeta was a visible presence on the small screen, making appearances in series such as "Perry Mason," "The Love Boat," "Hawaii Five-O," "Fantasy Island" and "Little House on the Prairie."
His last credited role was in the 2009 comedy film, "The People I've Slept With."
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