On Monday July 28th, 2014 pioneering Japanese American actor James Shigeta passed away at the age of 85. [Variety] [Hollywood Reporter] [Den Of Geek] [NY Times] [LA Times] James Shigeta was a pioneering Asian American actor who debuted in the 1959 film The Crimson Kimono, a Noir film about a murder case of a local entertainer investigated by two detectives (Korean war veterans) with an interracial love triangle in which James Shigeta’s character Detective Joe Kojaku develops a romantic bond with the character Christine Downes (played by Victoria Shaw) to the dismay of Detective Sgt. Charlie Bancroft (played by Glenn Corbett). The Crimson Kimono though ahead of its time in terms of dealing with interracial relationships still suffered many problematics.
The Crimson Kimono (1959)
James Shigeta went on to act in many films and TV roles over the years, most notably in the predominantly Asian American cast Flower Drum Song (1958), Hawaii Five-O TV Series (1968), Mission: Impossible TV Series (1970, 1989), Kung Fu TV Series (1974-75), The Streets of San Francisco TV Series (1976), Magnum, P.I. TV Series (1983-86), Die Hard (1988), voice acted in Diseny’s Mulan (1998), Brother (2000), voice acted in Avatar: The Last Airbender animated TV series (2005), and in the recent indie Asian American rom com film The People I’ve Slept With (2009).
Flower Drum Song (1961) trailer
James Shigeta Q&A – The Crimson Kimono – Dec. 6, 2007 – Meniscus Magazine
James Shigeta was a pioneer for Asian Americans in entertainment, TV and film. He’s one of the giants on whose shoulders younger Asian American actors and entertainers like Steven Yuen, John Cho, Daniel Dae Kim, and others stand on. James Shigeta may your work continue to inspire creativity in future generations of actors and entertainers.
James Shigeta Tribute – San Francisco Asian American Film Festival 2006
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