• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Pat Morita’s Harsh, Happy Childhood

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actors, actresses and filmmakers. The world’s largest collection of its kind – over 10,000  items- is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library. Twice Golden Globe nominee Pat Morita – born Noriyuki Morita in a family of Japanese immigrants, in 1932, in Isleton, California – had a long and glowing career as comedian, actor and voice talent. Mostly known for his Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid and Karate Kid Part II, Morita also worked in the hit TV show Happy Days and voiced the Chinese Emperor in Mulan. He died in 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada, aged 73. In 1994, when the second Karate Kid came out, Morita shared memories of his hard childhood, most of it in internment camps and in hospitals, battling spinal tuberculosis and learning to walk.

“I was a happy child. No matter that the USA put us (JapaneseAmericans) in prison camps when World War IIcame. Bear in mind that I was only 11 years old,I was so happy to be walking,I didn’t care where I walked. I didn’t care about the environment I was walking in what happened to be that time of my life. Maybe by the time I got to be well into my teens, I started to feel the first little pangs of not so much anger,just being ticked off that I was going through tough years. Teenage years are not enjoyable. You’re leaving childhood behind.You have to make alot of adjustments,your body is changing, hormones are kicking in. You don’t know if you’d like to pursue an education. You don’t really know what you’d like to be. I was troubled by a lot of things which are common to any teenage group,and I don’t think I really got angry untilI met my second wife… No!Joke!Joke! We have two beautiful children so somehow there was love there,I guess. But I’ve never been an angry guy. We all have moments but somehow I’ve always managed to find a way to walk away fromit.”