Friday July 21, 2006
Mako died today at his home in Somis, in Ventura County. He was known by his first name only, and used his mother's surname Iwamatsu. His sister Momo Yashima was with him when he breathed his last. Neither he nor his wife Susie wants a funeral or a memorial, or any kind service. He was the son of activist anti-militarist painters Taro Yashima and Mitsu Iwamatsu, who fled Japan before WWII. Mako was sickly child and left with his grandparents in Japan. The story of Taro reunitijng with Mako after the war is told in Taro Yashima's "picture book" HORIZON IS CALLING.
Actors who worked with him and those who were trained by him or worked under his direction who feel him in their work may want to get together and get roaring drunk. I don't know. He spoke at Steve McQueen's passing, the star of THE SAND PEBBLES, Mako's first movie that won him an Oscar nomination. I had mixed feelings about THE RISING SUN with Sean Connery, and Wesley Snipes, but saw this as one of Mako's best most textured performances. He wasn't a bad guy or the butt of a joke. He played an executive of a corporation who loved golf. Perhaps because of his love of golf, he was very good.
If anyone out there wants a Mako film fest and drunk, be sure to let me know. Asian-American art and culture has lost an inspiration to writers and actors and art may have lost the only Asian with guts enough to put his talent where his vision is . He was an Asian American who could rough and tumble instead crawl and bat their eyes. This bottle is for you, Mako.