Friday, April 24, 2015

U for Miyoshi Umeki



Born: May 8, 1929

Died: August 28, 2007

Aged: 78 years from cancer

Married: 2 times

Great Friend: Bill Bixby

Tiny powerhouse who stole many scenes from much bigger stars. The youngest of 9 children, she was born into a prosperous family and showed a passion for music. She could play the Piano, Mandolin and Harmonica plus she could sing. Much to her parent's chagrin she loved American songs and sang them in the English language. This helped her after the war since she could play with a G.I. band on radio and in nightclubs becoming very popular under the name Nancy Umeki.  She was noticed for her talent and came to the United States joining the Arthur Godfrey show. From there she hit the jackpot acting in "Sayonara" with Red Buttons and Marlon Brando. She became the first Asian and, so far, only Asian woman to win an Oscar (she accepted the Oscar wearing her traditional dress which is beautiful). She then conquered Broadway receiving a Tony nomination for "Flower Drum Song" which she repeated in film. She guest starred on several shows and became a regular on "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" where she met and became a life-long friend of Bill Bixby. Once that show was done, she retired with her 2nd husband, raised a family and started a business, with her husband, renting editing equipment. Once widowed, she moved closer to her son to be near him and his family.

Oscar Win: "Sayonara"

Films: "Flower Drum Song", "Cry For Happy", "The Horizontal Lieutenant".

Quote: After receiving Oscar " I really don't know what to say. I wish somebody would help me right now. I did not expect this cos I have nothing in my mind right now. I thank you, you  and all fo you thank you American People."


63 comments:

  1. She was always such a enjoyable actress, so innocent and sweet. I know folks think it is sappy, but I really enjoyed 'Flower Drum Song'.

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    1. I really enjoyed that film and thought it was wonderful. She has such a nice voice too

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  2. I don't remember her, but she looks beautiful - and she seems to have led a fairly stable life unless you've missed out loads of scandal! Unusual.
    Anabel's Travel Blog
    Adventures of a retired librarian

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    1. Nope-no scandal for her:) She had a really nice and ordinary life apart from being an actress

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  3. She always seem so sweet in the show and honestly I only knew of her work from the tv show... though I had seen the films.

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    1. I thought she should be showcased because of winning that Oscar and still being the only Asian woman to do so

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  4. Hi, Birgit! Thank you for shining the spotlight on the beautiful and talented actress Miyoshi Umeki. I remembered her face but never knew her name. As a little boy in mid 50s I regularly watched Arthur Godfrey with my mother and I recall seeing Miyoshi on that program. I saw her in Sayonara, Flower Drum Song, The Horizontal Lieutenant and, of course, on The Courtship of Eddie's Father.

    Thank you very much, dear Birgit, and have a wonderful weekend!

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    1. You know her really well! I am so glad and she is another actress many people do not know about

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  5. I remember her in Sayonara, which was a very sad movie. Brando changed the ending for Hollywood to make it a bit happier, he always did change things in his films. The novel by James Michner did not end on a happy note.

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    1. I never read the novel but in Hollywood there usually had to be happy endings.

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  6. I don't know her work at all. She was from Hokkaido! That's the only one of Japan's four major islands which I was never able to visit. Someday...

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    1. Yup and lucky you to have visited Japan. Someone from my University days has made his home there and has lived there for close to 30 years now

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    2. I've spent five years there - three as a child, two as an adult. I'd go back to visit in a heartbeat, even given the rest of the world to choose from.

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  7. I liked her in the few films of her's that I've seen (Flower Drum Song, Sayonara), but I never loved her as an actress. Still, it's nice to see you mention a foreign actress here, and a classic one at that!

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    1. Well I thought she needed some loving:)

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  8. Anther I never knew, at least that I can recall. Don't think I've seen her in anything at my sea.

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    1. She didn't do many films and most probably know her from the TV show

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  9. Like Pat, she's another one I don't remember. Good for her for being the first Asian woman to win an Oscar. I thought the second should've been Ziyi Zhang for her work in Memoirs of a Geisha.

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    1. She isn't much talked about yet she broke barriers actually. I never have seen Memoirs of a Guisha

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  10. Sadly I don't know her work. She sounds wonderful!

    Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!
    A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy
    http://pensuasion.blogspot.com/

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    1. She is under-stated and really quite good

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  11. I thought I recognized her face, now that it makes sense that I did with her being on the Courtship of Eddie's Father (that was such a cute show). I had not heard of her name before, very talented! How interesting she went from acting to a renting business :)

    betty

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    1. I know! I think she enjoyed being in business with her husband and that other part of her life became history

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  12. I remember her as Mrs. Livingston on "The Courtship of Eddie's Father." I don't think I've seen "Flower Drum Song" except for a couple of clips.

    John Holton
    Blogging from A to Z 2015 Cohost
    The Sound of One Hand Typing

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    1. Oh she was good in that show but she was great in Sayonara and Flower Drum Song

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  13. Sayonara was an amazing film. I appreciate them or now than I did as a kid. The beauty of the kabuki scenes amaze me. The intricate plot lines are rarely seen now.

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    1. Sometimes we need to take another look at a film to truly appreciate it

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  14. Never saw any of her work, Sounds like a fascinating actress.

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    1. I think so because she loved the American music much to her family's chagrin and made a name for herself as a singer before she started acting

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  15. I remember her from that television show. Only one to win an Oscar? Wow.

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    1. Yup Only Female Asian actor to win an Oscar so far

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  16. I remember Sayonara. Good movie.

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  17. I don't remember ever hearing of this actress before and I haven't seen any of the movies she was in. Thanks for sharing! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. hahahaaa-that's why they need to get some love on my little ole blog:)

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  18. I don't remember seeing her on tv or film but she looks like a sweet person who had a rich life.

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    1. She did and I thought she was great in Flower Drum Song

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  19. Great she won an Oscar, but I would have at least prepared a speech just in case.

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    1. I know:) She didn't and seemed genuinely surprised

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  20. Yeah, I remember her from 'The Courtship Of Eddie's Father'. Wow! You sure know your Hollywood, BIRGIT. You got me beat bad!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Well, Thank you! When I was thinking about my next list hers was the only name that popped into my head since I already wrote about Peter Ustinov last year.

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  21. Lovely actress. I adore Sayonara, though it's sad, and Flower Drum Song. I remember watching The Courtship of Eddie's Father. People, let me tell ya bout my best friend. He's a one boy cuddly toy who'll love ya to the end.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Sayonara is sad and she was so good in that film. I do remember her from that TV show even though I was little

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  22. Another fascinating tale of an actress. Many of them have died of cancer. Perhaps that's because it was "cool" to smoke in films in the mid-twentieth century!

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    1. Back in the day, it was sophisticated to smoke especially if you had one of those long cigarette holders to put the cig in. They use to give out free smokes to all the soldiers (my dad told me that since he was in the army). The sad thing is if one did a list now, I think Cancer and heart disease still are the top 2

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  23. I wonder if she was as calm and composed in real life as the characters she played. She was great in "Flower Drum Song." I like the duet she did with Jack Soo.

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    1. I am not sure but from what I have read I think she probably was a calm person overall

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  24. "U" is always a hard one to come up with - but you did great! I never knew about this lady and I'm so impressed that she's the only Asian to win an Oscar. Wow! Good luck with the rest of the A-Z, and have a great weekend!

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    1. Yes U is hard!. It's funny some letters there are so many to choose and others...ughh but I am glad I picked this lady

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  25. Hello there.
    I thought she looked familiar...I love watching Sayonara. She was very elegant.
    Thanks for sharing and for visiting my blog.
    (If I ever get the chance to come up your way, I'll definitely visit that tea store in Niagara On The Lake!)

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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    1. She was great in that film. Yes that tea store is quite nice and so is the whole town

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  26. So pleased you chose this actress. Sayonara is a favorite of mine. Miyoshi was pure loveliness, so graceful, and seemed perfect for the part.

    Inventions by Women A-Z
    Shells–Tales–Sails

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    1. Oh glad you like her so much. This is such a great film and she deserves to be written about

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  27. I recognize her! So cool of you to share her because I never knew any of her history. Thank you! Lisa, co-host A to Z Challenge 2015 and http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. oh you are welcome! She was nice lady from what I read and had a good head on her shoulders which is a nice change

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  28. I don't remember hearing of her. She did a lot of great things. Nice read.

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  29. I used to watch Courtship of Eddie's Father, and she looks familiar. She was beautiful. You're picking a great mix of shining stars, Birgit. Well done.

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    1. Thanks-I try and she was good in that show

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  30. I never knew that Mrs. Livingston won an Oscar! A+ for originality, Birgit!

    Julie

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  31. I've never heard of her but she sounds like a remarkable woman. I love the fact that she won an Oscar and then just settled down and lived a fairly normal existence. :-)

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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  32. I don't think I know her, did watch courtship of eddies father, but don't remember her. You've come up with quite a variety of people.

    Sandy at Bridge and Beyond U post still working on catching up, but getting there.

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