FLOWER DRUM SONG Star James Shigeta Dies at 81
Variety reports that actor James Shigeta, best known for his roles in "Die Hard" and the big screen adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, died Monday, July 27 at 81.
Shigeta first came on screen in the U.S., in 1959 as Detective Joe Kojaku in The Crimson Kimono, a detective story which featured an interracial romantic triangle between Kojaku, his partner Sgt. Charlie Bancroft (played by Glenn Corbett), and Christine Downes (portrayed by Victoria Shaw). Paramount Pictures and James Clavell cast Shigeta in the 1960 release Walk Like A Dragon, as Cheng Lu, a young Chinese man in the American old west.
In 1961, he starred in the romantic comedy Cry for Happy had Shigeta co-starring with Glenn Ford, Donald O'Connor and Miyoshi Umeki in a tale about Korean War era United States Navy photographers in Japan. That same year he was cast as Wang Ta, a role originated by Ed Kenney on Broadway, in the Academy Awards-nominated movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Songwith Nancy Kwan and Miyoshi Umeki playing the love interests.
He was cast as World War II Japanese diplomat Hidenari Terasaki opposite Carroll Baker as Gwen Terasaki in the 1961 biographical movie Bridge to the Sun.
Shigeta guest starred in many television shows, beginning with Alcoa Premiere in 1961, as a Korean War era Chinese Communist who tortured star Lloyd Bridges. He has continued to act in television up through Avatar: The Last Airbender in 2005.
In 1965, Shigeta starred in Paradise, Hawaiian Style with Elvis Presley and that same year, worked with Raymond Burr in the Perry Mason episode The Case of the Wrongful Writ. Shigeta worked with Raymond Burr two more times in the 1969 Ironside episode Love My Enemy, and the 1971 episode No Motive for Murder of the same series.
He also continued starring in films. In 1976, he portrayed the famous Japanese admiral Chuichi Nagumo in Midway. In 1988, he played the ill-fated corporate executive Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi in the action adventure film Die Hard. Cage II: The Arena of Death from 1994 pits star Lou Ferrigno against Shigeta's character of underworld crime boss Tim Yum Yum. Shigeta has lent his voice to Disney's 1998 animated film Mulan.