June 17, 1933
Hawaii, United States
July 28, 2014
Los Angeles, California, United States
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After serving in the Korean War, Hawaiin-born James Shigeta built a successful career as a nightclub singer and supper club performer under the European-sounding name of 'Guy Brion' before being invited to record albums in Japan. After spending years learning the language and performing in movies, radio shows, and stage productions, Shigeta returned to the United States in 1959 for an appearance on "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show." His suave, classy demeanor and smooth voice made him an instant star, and he soon landed roles in films like the interracial romantic drama "The Crimson Kimono," notable for its then-radical use of an Asian actor to play a detective. After portraying a nationalistic young Chinese man in the 1960 western "Walk Like a Dragon," Shigeta landed a lead role in the World War II drama "Bridge to the Sun." His portrayal of a Japanese diplomat victimized over his marriage to an American woman won critical praise, leading to his biggest role yet, the lovelorn Wang Ta in the feature film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Flower Drum Song." Shigeta appeared in numerous TV series throughout the '60s and '70s, landing a recurring role as Dr. Osaka on the award-winning medical series "Medical Center." Later in his career, he portrayed doomed businessman Joseph Takagi in the surprise hit "Die Hard" and lent his voice to the 1998 Disney film "Mulan."