It appears that the man who came to symbolize the wise and stoic martial arts master has died. Pat Morita, who starred in the three Karate Kid movies and appeared in nearly 80 other films, passed away Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes.
Morita’s Mr. Miyagi was a Yoda-like mentor, and was undoubtedly the most memorable part from the Kid films — sorry, Ralph. Just recently I joked with my son about the scene in which Miyagi helped Daniel-san’s leg after he gets injured in the climactic karate match. Reading the articles about him, I had forgotten that he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the original Karate Kid film. Of course, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that he was also the original Al of “Al’s Place” on Happy Days.
Although his last film, Down and Dirty, was released earlier this year to very little box office success, he had roles in three more films due to be released in 2006. He may have been relegated to small roles today, but Morita will forever remain a pop culture icon of the 1980s.
For more information about Pat Morita, check out the article at CNN.com, or look at his filmography at IMDB.