Pat Morita was a Japanese-American actor who rose to fame in the 1980s for his role as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movie franchise. Despite his success, Morita struggled with alcoholism for much of his life and tragically passed away in 2005. In this blog post, we will explore the life and legacy of Pat Morita, from his career to his battle with addiction.
Early Life and Career
Pat Morita was born in California in 1932. His parents were Japanese immigrants, and he spent much of his childhood in hospital due to spinal tuberculosis. Despite this, he went on to have a successful career in show business, starting out as a stand-up comedian in the 1960s.
Morita’s big break came in 1975 when he was cast as Arnold on the TV show Happy Days. He quickly became a fan favorite and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance. This led to more acting opportunities, including roles in popular TV shows like M*A*S*H and The Love Boat.
Mr. Miyagi and the Karate Kid
Pat Morita’s most famous role was as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movie franchise. The first film was released in 1984 and was a huge success, grossing over $90 million at the box office. Morita’s portrayal of the wise and kind martial arts master earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Morita went on to reprise his role as Mr. Miyagi in three sequels, and his character became an iconic part of pop culture. He even received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994.
Battle with Alcoholism
Despite his success, Pat Morita struggled with alcoholism for much of his life. He began drinking heavily in the 1960s and was arrested for drunk driving multiple times. In 1990, he checked himself into rehab for alcoholism.
Morita’s battle with addiction continued throughout the rest of his life. He suffered a relapse in 2000 and was hospitalized for alcohol-related issues. Sadly, he passed away in 2005 at the age of 73.
Legacy and Impact
Pat Morita’s legacy lives on through his work in film and television. He was a trailblazer for Asian-American actors and helped to break down stereotypes in Hollywood. His performance as Mr. Miyagi inspired a generation of martial arts enthusiasts and remains a beloved part of pop culture.
Pat Morita’s Daughter Erin Morita
Erin Morita is the daughter of Pat Morita. She is a writer and producer, known for her work on the TV show The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Erin has spoken publicly about her father’s battle with alcoholism and the impact it had on their family.
Pat Morita’s Movies
In addition to the Karate Kid franchise, Pat Morita appeared in dozens of films throughout his career. Some of his most notable roles include Arnold in Happy Days, Ah Chew in Sanford and Son, and Matsuo “Arnold” Takahashi in the TV show Mr. T and Tina.
Pat Morita’s Biography
There have been several biographies written about Pat Morita, including “The Pat Morita Story: The Man Behind the Karate Kid” by Tom Lisanti and “Pat Morita: The Inspirational Life Story of Pat Morita: Happy Days to Karate Kid to Hollywood” by Anthony James.
Pat Morita’s Children
Pat Morita had three children: Tia, Aly, and Erin. Tia and Aly are from his first marriage, and Erin is from his second marriage. Erin has spoken publicly about her father’s battle with alcoholism and the impact it had on their family.
Pat Morita was a talented actor who left a lasting impact on Hollywood. His portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid franchise remains a beloved part of pop culture, and his legacy as a trailblazer for Asian-American actors is still felt today. While his battle with alcoholism was tragic, it is important to remember the positive impact he had on the world through his work in film and television.