Saturday, September 8, 2007

Oscar-winner Miyoshi Umeki dead at 78

TOKYO (Hollywood Reporter) -- Miyoshi Umeki, the first Asian to win an Oscar, died Aug. 28 at a nursing home in Licking, Mo. She was 78.
Umeki won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1957 after playing opposite Red Buttons in Sayonara, the screen version of the James Michener novel about a U.S. soldier who falls in love amid the chaos at the end of World War II.
Fated to be parted when he is ordered to return to the U.S., the pair commits suicide.
"This is a major loss to the Japanese movie industry," said Yuko Nakano, a spokeswoman for the Motion Pictures Producers Association of Japan.
Born in the northern city of Otaru in 1929, Umeki began her performing career by singing jazz numbers at military camps during the occupation.
After spells on radio and TV in Japan, she moved to the United States in 1955, when she quickly caught the attention of Sayonara director Joshua Logan.
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