Pat Morita

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Pat Morita

Joel Pena, Staff Writer

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Noriyuki “Pat” Morita was born on June 28th, 1932 in Isleton, California. Morita developed spinal tuberculosis at the age of two and spent the next nine years in Northern Californian hospitals. He was wrapped in full body casts for long periods of time and was told he would never be able to walk. Pat was released from the hospital, at age 11, after undergoing extensive spinal surgery and learning how to walk. After World War II, Morita’s family owned and operated Ariake Chop Suey, a restaurant in Sacramento, California. He would entertain their clientele by cracking jokes.

Pat struggled for many years as a stand up comic until Redd Foxx gave him a role on his sitcom Sanford and Son in the early 1970s. He later landed his first roles in movies like a stereotypical henchman in Thoroughly Modern Millie and another role in The Shakiest Gun In The West. However, his renowned role as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid, where he taught Daniel Russo the arts of karate, brought him much fame and popularity. For his famous role, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and a Golden Globe Award. Before his notoriety, he was known as “Aronld” in the tv series Happy Days. He also provided the voice of “The Emperor” in the Mulan animated films.

After the ending of the Karate Kid series, his career died out and was, sadly, no longer talked about. Noriyuki “Pat” Morita passed away on November 24th, 2005 at the age of 73 in his home in Las Vegas, Nevada of kidney failure. Pat’s legacy would forever be remembered by his star role as Mr. Miyagi; there was a SpongeBob SquarePants episode called “Karate Island” in which he was the voice of Udon. The episode aired on May 12th, 2006 in commemoration of his death; the episode as dedicated to him.

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