Pat Morita

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Who is Pat Morita?

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in 2002

From Wikipedia:

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (June 28, 1932 – November 24, 2005) was a Japanese-American actor and comedian. He was known for his roles as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days, Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid film series, Captain Sam Pak on the sitcom M*A*S*H, Ah Chew in Sanford and Son, Mike Woo in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and The Emperor of China in Mulan and Mulan II. He was the series lead actor in the television program Mr. T and Tina and in Ohara, a police-themed drama. The two shows made history for being among the few TV shows with an Asian American series lead.

Morita was nominated for the 1984 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, which would be the first of a media franchise in which Morita was the central player.

His life

Morita was born in Isleton, California, in 1932. His parents immigrated to California in 1913 and 1915. He had a brother named Hideo (Harry) who was twelve years older.

Morita developed spinal tuberculosis (Pott disease) at the age of two and spent the bulk of the next nine years in the Weimar Institute in Weimar, California, and later at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. For long periods, he was wrapped in a full-body cast, and he was told that he would never walk. During his time at a sanatorium near Sacramento, Morita befriended a visiting priest who would often joke that, if Morita ever converted to Catholicism, the priest would rename him to "Patrick Aloysius Ignatius Xavier Noriyuki Morita". Released from the hospital at age 11 after undergoing extensive spinal surgery and learning how to walk, Morita was transported from the hospital directly to the Gila River camp in Arizona to join his interned family. After about a year and a half, he was transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.

After World War II ended, Mr. Morita moved back to the Bay Area and he graduated from Armijo High School in Fairfield, California, in 1949. After the war, the Morita family ran the restaurant Ariake Chop Suey in Sacramento, California. A few years after his father's passing in 1956, Morita and his mother had to close the restaurant. Looking for a job to support his wife and newly born child, Morita started working as a data processor in the early 1960s with the Department of Motor Vehicles and other state agencies, graduating to a graveyard shift job at Aerojet General. In due time, he was a department head at another aerospace firm, Lockheed, handling the liaison between the engineers and the programmers who were mapping out lunar eclipses for Polaris and Titan missile projects. However, Morita suffered from occupational burnout and decided to quit his job and try show business.

He began working as a stand-up comedian at small clubs in Sacramento and San Francisco, and took the stage name "Pat Morita", in part due to the presence of comedians including Pat Henry and Pat Cooper, and in part due to memories of the priest he had befriended as a boy. Morita struggled for many years in comedy, until fellow performer and ventriloquist Hank Garcia told him to try his luck in Los Angeles, where he worked as the opening act for singers and other comedians. During this time, Morita used the nickname "The Hip Nip".

Morita died of kidney failure, following a urinary tract and gallbladder infection, on November 24, 2005, at his home in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 73. Throughout his life, Morita had battled alcoholism. He was cremated at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Las Vegas, Nevada.

His role as Mr. Miyagi

Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid

From Wikipedia

Mr. Miyagi is a fictional karate master from Okinawa, Japan in The Karate Kid film series. Mr. Miyagi mentors Daniel LaRusso and Julie Pierce in the films. Miyagi was played by Pat Morita, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Karate Kid.

Mr. Miyagi's given name is inconsistent in the series. In The Karate Kid, the name Hideo Miyagi, which translates to “hero” Miyagi and is the real given name of Pat Morita’s brother, can be seen stamped in reverse on his World War II dog tags, being used as a keychain for the car he gives Daniel as a birthday present. As written in Japanese characters in The Karate Kid Part II, his name is 宮城成義 (Miyagi Nariyoshi), which translates as Nariyoshi Miyagi, which is also seen on his gravestone in Cobra Kai. He is called Keisuke Miyagi at the start of The Next Karate Kid.

Miyagi was born on June 9, 1925, in Okinawa, Japan. He learned karate from his father, a fisherman, and worked for the richest man in the village, whose son Sato was Miyagi's best friend. In a departure from the local tradition of fathers only teaching karate to their own sons, Miyagi's father also taught Sato at his son's request. However, their friendship soured when Miyagi fell in love with Yukie, who was arranged to marry Sato. Dishonored by their love, Sato challenged Miyagi to a fight to the death, and Miyagi chose to emigrate to the United States without Yukie rather than fight his best friend.

Emigrating to Hawaii as a teenager, he worked as a farm laborer in the Hawaiian cane fields, where he met his wife, who was also a farm laborer.

Mr. Miyagi was interned in the Manzanar Japanese-American internment camp at the onset of World War II. During this time, Miyagi joined the U.S. Army and received the Medal of Honor. He was a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, historically the most highly decorated regiments, for its size, of the United States Armed Forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients (At the time of the "Karate Kid" film series, there was only one regiment member awarded the Medal of Honor – Sadao S. Munemori, who received it posthumously in 1946; 20 other regiment members were upgraded from the Distinguished Service Cross in 2000). While in the Army, he taught his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jack Pierce, the art of karate. During his service, Mrs. Miyagi and their newborn son died in the Manzanar camp due to complications during childbirth, a loss that haunted him for decades.

What Miyagi did during the time between the war and the first Karate Kid film is not fully known beyond that he purchased a private residence in Los Angeles and painstakingly cultivated a lush garden area in his backyard. He worked for an unknown amount of time as a maintenance attendant in the apartment complex LaRusso and his mother moved into from New Jersey. This is when the two character met for the first time.

Mr. Miyagi died on November 15, 2011, as revealed in the Cobra Kai web series.

Other TV and Movie roles

  • First movie roles were as a henchman in Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967) and a similar role in The Shakiest Gun In The West (1968).
  • Other notable recurring TV roles on Sanford and Son (1974–1976) as Ah Chew, and as a South Korean Army Captain Sam Pak on the sitcom M*A*S*H (1973, 1974).
  • Had a recurring role on Happy Days as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi (the owner of Arnold's Drive-In) during season three (1975–76).
  • In 1976, he starred as inventor Taro Takahashi in his own show, Mr. T and Tina
  • Also starred in the ABC detective show Ohara (1987–1988).
  • Wrote and starred in the World War II romance film Captive Hearts (1987).
  • Hosted the educational home video series Britannica's Tales Around the World (1990–1991).
  • Starred on the Nickelodeon television series The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1996–1998), and had a recurring role on the sitcom The Hughleys (2000)
  • Morita voiced the Emperor of China in Disney's 36th animated feature Mulan (1998) and reprised the role in Mulan II (2004), a direct-to-video sequel and Kingdom Hearts II.
  • spoofed his role as "Mr. Miyagi" in a series of commercials for Colgate toothpaste; he portrayed the white-clad Wisdom Tooth, hailing Colgate as "The Wise Choice"
  • He would also reprise his role (to an extent) in the stop-motion animated series Robot Chicken in 2005

Cameos and guest appearances

  • On The Fresh Prince of Belair in the 1994 Season 5 episode “ Love Hurts”.
  • On a 1996 episode of Married... with Children.
  • In 2002, he made a guest appearance on an episode of Spy TV.
  • Cameo appearance in the 2001 Alien Ant Farm music video "Movies"
  • An episode of Yes, Dear, as an unnamed karate teacher, potentially being Miyagi.

The Pat Morita Event in CHW

During November 2021 Hunters Lodge the Coin Hunt World Pat Morita Event was announced, becoming the first NFT dropping Event to take place in CHW.

This is a global event, but the 6 Epic Toriis for the Pat Morita NFTs will only be found in California (4), Wisconsin (1) and Hawaii (1). In all locations, Green Vaults became Common Toriis that drop Event resources (Chopsticks and Japanese Drums) used to print the Pat Morita Cubie Blueprint. Common Toriis will have a very small (<1%) chance of dropping the epic Pat Morita blueprint.

The event may or may not come back in the future. TBA.