Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, who famously portrayed Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid film franchise, faced many hardships throughout his life. The late actor, who died at the age of 73 in November 2005, had a traumatic childhood. For nine years, he lived in a sanitarium and a Shriners hospital while recovering from spinal tuberculosis. When he was 11, he no longer had to be hospitalized but was soon forced into a Japanese-American internment camp.
According to the new documentary, More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story, Morita was an alcoholic and wed three different women over the years.
Morita Wed His First Wife When He Was 21-Years-Old
He wed his first wife, Kathleen Yamachi, when he was 21-years-old. In a 2010 essay published in Hyphen magazine, Morita’s daughter, Aly, who he had with his second wife Yukiye Kitahara, wrote that Yamachi was 27 at the time of their marriage. The couple had one child together, a daughter named Erin. However, not much information has been made public about Yamachi.
At the start of their marriage, Morita was employed at his parent’s restaurant, located in Sacramento, California. More Than Miyagi included an interview clip, in which the actor explained that once he had a family of his own with Yamachi, he pursued a different career path.
“Between experiencing a first family and raising a child and working at the restaurant I wanted a so-called regular job, a real job that paid real money and I found my way into working what became a giant in the aerospace industry,” explained Morita.
However, he was still unsatisfied and decided to try his luck in the entertainment industry.
“I just made up my mind at age 30 that was it if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it, and for the rest of my life, I’ll kick myself in the you-know-what,” stated the actor.
He worked as a comedian and appeared on numerous variety shows. According to Morita, while performing in San Francisco, a patron complimented his act and told him to meet with his manager, Sally Marr, in Hollywood.
Marr’s son was comedian Lenny Bruce, who she also managed. She took a liking to Morita and was soon his mentor.
Morita Met His Third Wife While He Was Still Married To Yamachi
According to the documentary, Marr introduced him to her niece, actress Evelyn Guerrero, who eventually became his third wife in 1994. Morita was still married to Yamachi, who he divorced in 1967, and did not start a relationship with Guerrero until nearly three decades after their first introduction in the early 1960s.
More Than Miyagi shared a clip of Guerrero speaking about meeting Morita while appearing on the talk show Table for 5 with Felicia & Annette. She noted that she was “about 12-years-old when [she] met him.”
“My aunt Sally Marr was managing not only her son Lenny Bruce but she was also managing my mother at the same time. She was also mentoring Pat, who was just beginning to get into stand-up comedy, and so I met him through my mom and my aunt Sally,” explained the Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie actress. “But you know what’s funny is if someone had told me then that I would marry him years later, I would say are you crazy? Uncle Pat?”
As noted in the documentary, despite his issues with alcoholism, Guerrero stayed married to Morita until he died.
READ NEXT: Pat Morita’s Obituary Details