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Friday, November 25, 2005

Mister Miyagi screams "BONZAI!" for the last time: Pat Morita has passed away

This just reeks. I'm literally at a loss for the words I'm looking for to convey how low my heart feels right now. Being a child of the Eighties, Mister Miyagi was one of my heroes. One minute he was this cute little handyman trying to catch houseflies with chopsticks. The next he was this engine of rage karate-chopping hoodlums into pain and agony. "Wax on, wax off!" The guy became, I think it's safe to say he became a genuine archetype of wise master, right up there with Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi.

But if Mister Miyagi became all those things, so much more so was the man who portrayed him. There was a time when Pat Morita was everywhere. I think at one point he was in just about as many commercials as Bill Cosby. Heck back in the day he was even a regular on Sanford and Son and Happy Days. Whatever he did, Morita always seemed nothing less than sincere about who he was, and it always went back to being that sweet little man with the humble voice and noble eyes. Who just as much as he could kick tail, he could make us think a little, and laugh a lot.

Darn it's hard writing about this.

I just found out a few minutes ago that Pat Morita has died. He was 73. He had as full a life as anyone could possibly have: going from detainee in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II, to restaurant owner and computer industry worker, to professional actor and finally beloved American icon. Here's the story from the Associated Press via Yahoo! My friend Chad just posted a really neat tribute to Morita over at his blog too. I imagine a lot of people are going to be stopping today to remember this man who figured so greatly in our pop culture's mind.

Rest in peace, sensei Morita. And bonzai!


Anonymous said...

Problem is (isn't it?) that fella you idolize mostly was a 'commercial fiction'. - Or, did his filmic, fictional attributes mirror those in his real off set life? Don't we have to beware of our attachments to commercial inventions?

Chris Knight said...

I watched an interview once with Morita. He seemed pretty genuine.

And it'd be better to be a little mindful of something: that a fellow human being has passed on. Now's not the time to knock or criticize someone. 'Twould be better to remember that he was with us for a little while, and remember the way that he used his talents.

Anonymous said...

Apologies, Christopher I did not wish to give the impression I was knocking or criticizing yours or anybodies hero. And, for sure those who have passed on, whoever they are hero or otherwise, deserve the respect due to them.

Chris Knight said...

Thanks Obertra. I'm really amazed at how far in life Morita came. Until today I had no idea that he'd been in a Japanese internment camp, or that he'd been so sick before that. He really did live the American dream the whole way. That, if anything, should serve as true inspiration.

And let's face it, "The Karate Kid" was a heckuva good movie, especially 'cuz of Morita :-)