Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, who famously portrayed Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid film franchise, died at 73 in 2005. According to People magazine, “complications from alcoholism” ultimately caused his passing.
Soon after his death, Morita’s obituary was released, which delved into the life of the beloved, yet troubled, actor.
The obituary noted that his third wife, Evelyn Guerrero, released the news that he had “died [on November 24] at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes.”
Morita’s career as a comedian and actor was also mentioned in the obituary. Before being cast as Mr. Miyagi, the father of three appeared on several sitcoms. In particular, he was recognized for playing Arnold on Happy Days. He was momentarily given the opportunity to star in the show Mr. T and Tina.
According to the new documentary More Than Miyagi that was released on February 5, Morita had left Happy Days to play the series’ titular character, Mr. T, also known as Mr. Takahashi, who was first introduced on the show Welcome Back, Kotter. Unfortunately, only four episodes were aired.
The Obituary Mentioned His Portrayal of Mr. Miyagi
Morita’s obituary also focused on his iconic portrayal of Mr. Miyagi, reading:
In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio’s “Daniel-san,” he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as “wax on, wax off” to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.
The Actor’s Turbulent Childhood Was Also Examined In The Statement
Morita’s turbulent childhood was also examined in the statement. The obituary noted the California-born actor was “the son of migrant fruit pickers,” and was hospitalized “with spinal tuberculosis” when he was a toddler. As previously reported by Heavy, the disease immobilized him, and he was sent to the Weimar Sanitarium. Later in his childhood, he received treatment at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco and could walk by the age of 11.
As noted by his obituary, his recovery was marked by even more tragedy, as he had to go to an internment camp.
More Than Miyagi, shared an interview with the actor, in which he described the ordeal.
“Long story short, I was escorted from the hospital by an FBI guy to join my parents at an internment camp in the middle of Arizona,” explained Morita. “They were all behind barbed wire. I didn’t know the difference. You know I’m just happy to be walking. But I could feel and sense and hear all the colors and horrors of incarceration, the sadness, the hopelessness and I’ll never forget I got there, and for four days straight, I cried. I was homesick for the hospital and the nurse.”
The actor’s notice of death reported that once his family was released from the internment center, they opened a restaurant in Sacramento, California, where “Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.” However, it was not until he was 30 that “he entered show business full time.”
In addition, his obituary revealed that his final resting place is the Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery in Las Vegas, and that he was “survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.”