Pat Morita

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Pat Morita (1932-2005) talks about his early years, including his childhood internment in a camp in California for Japanese-Americans during World War II. Mr. Morita discusses how he turned to comedy performance at the age of 30, and quickly rose to his television debut on Hollywood Palace. After performing on stage and television, he landed a regular role on Happy Days as Arnold. He talks about appearing on Sanford and Son and speaks fondly of his mentor, the late Redd Foxx. He also recalls his work on the "Karate Kid" feature films and his current life and career. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Las Vegas, NV on October 13, 2000.

"But quote unquote 'Japs ain't funny.' So how am I going to get work as a comedian if 'Japs ain't funny'? I gotta be funny first, but might happen to look like a Japanese guy....I think the best things in life begin from sometimes the worst things in life -- but not without effort, not without hopes and dreams."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Pat Morita on being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
Pat Morita on doing voice over for the feature "Mulan," and on being inspired by Mel Blanc
Pat Morita on working with Ron Howard as "Ritchie Cunningham" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on how playing "Miyagi" in the "Karate Kid" series of feature films impacted his career
Pat Morita on advice to aspiring actors
Pat Morita on appearing on M*A*S*H
Pat Morita on how he'd like to be remembered
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences
On having tuberculosis as a child, requiring long-term hospitalization: on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II; on his early interest in entertainment, and on radio shows he listened to as a child

Chapter 2

On his high school education and working in his family's restaurant; on working at Aerojet-General Corporation, and starting a family
On making the decision to become a comedian; on getting his foot in the door as a comedian, and on knowing Flip Wilson in the early years; on his early stand up act, and his five-year plan

Chapter 3

On how he came to appear on The Hollywood Palace thanks to his manager Sally Marr who was Lenny Bruce's mother; on tailoring his stand up act for television, and on using his Japanese heritage in his act
On starting to make the transition from comedian to actor; Morita on being typecast in his career, and on appearing in the feature "Throughly Modern Millie"; on he and his representatives realizing he wanted to be an actor, and on what it takes to make it as an actor
On appearing on M*A*S*H; on appearing on Love, American Style, where he worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris

Chapter 4

On being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson; on his character of "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days;
On his favorite "Arnold" moments on Happy Days; on people accepting his "Arnold Takahashi" character on Happy Days, and on why ABC wanted the audience to see him
On working with Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as "Howard Cunningham" and "Marion Cunningham" on Happy Days; on working with Ron Howard as "Ritchie Cunningham" on Happy Days; on working with Henry Winkler as "Fonzie" on Happy Days

Chapter 5

On Erin Moran as "Joanie Cunningham" on Happy Days; on Anson Williams as "Potsie Webber" on Happy Days; on Donny Most as "Ralph Malph" on Happy Days
On leaving Happy Days for Mr. T. & Tina, produced by James Komack; on the premise of Mr. T. & Tina; on appearing on Welcome Back, Kotter
On appearing as "Ah Chew" on Sanford and Son and on his friendship with Redd Foxx; on the name of his Sanford and Son character "Ah Chew"; on what he learned from his friend Redd Foxx during his time on Sanford and Son

Chapter 6

On his friendship with Redd Foxx; on appearing in Garry Marshall's show Blansky's Beauties with Nancy Walker; on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps
On playing "Miyagi" in the "Karate Kid" series of feature films; on how playing "Miyagi" in the "Karate Kid" series of feature films impacted his career
On starring in Ohara; on appearing in Hiroshima; on appearing in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

Chapter 7

On appearing in Amos with Kirk Douglas for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award; on appearing in Babes in Toyland with Drew Barrymore; on appearing in Larry Gelbart's Mastergate
On appearing in Greyhounds; on doing voice over for the feature "Mulan," and on being inspired by Mel Blanc; on then-current projects
On advice to aspiring actors; on racism in the television industry; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Amos

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Pat Morita on appearing in Amos with Kirk Douglas for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award

Babes in Toyland

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Pat Morita on appearing in Babes in Toyland with Drew Barrymore

Blansky's Beauties

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Pat Morita on appearing in Garry Marshall's show Blansky's Beauties with Nancy Walker

Farewell to Manzanar

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Pat Morita on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps

Greyhounds

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Pat Morita on appearing in Greyhounds

Happy Days

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Pat Morita on being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
Pat Morita on his character of "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on his favorite "Arnold" moments on Happy Days
Pat Morita on people accepting his "Arnold Takahashi" character on Happy Days, and on why ABC wanted the audience to see him
Pat Morita on working with Tom Bosley as "Howard Cunningham" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on working with Marion Ross and "Marion Cunningham" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on working with Ron Howard as "Ritchie Cunningham" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on working with Henry Winkler as "Fonzie" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on Erin Moran as "Joanie Cunningham" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on Anson Williams as "Potsie Webber" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on Donny Most as "Ralph Malph" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on leaving Happy Days for Mr. T. & Tina, produced by James Komack

Hiroshima

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Pat Morita on appearing in Hiroshima

Hollywood Palace, The

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Pat Morita on how he came to appear on The Hollywood Palace thanks to his manager Sally Marr who was Lenny Bruce's mother

Love, American Style

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Pat Morita on appearing on Love, American Style, where he worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris

M*A*S*H

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Pat Morita on appearing on M*A*S*H

Mastergate

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Pat Morita on appearing in Larry Gelbart's Mastergate

Mr. T. & Tina

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Pat Morita on leaving Happy Days for Mr. T. & Tina, produced by James Komack
Pat Morita on the premise of Mr. T. & Tina

Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, The

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Pat Morita on appearing in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

Ohara

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Pat Morita on starring in Ohara

Sanford and Son

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Pat Morita on appearing as "Ah Chew" on Sanford and Son and on his friendship with Redd Foxx
Pat Morita on the name of his Sanford and Son character "Ah Chew"
Pat Morita on what he learned from his friend Redd Foxx during his time on Sanford and Son

Welcome Back, Kotter

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Pat Morita on appearing on Welcome Back, Kotter
Topics

Advice

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Pat Morita on advice to aspiring actors

Characters & Catchphrases

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Pat Morita on his character of "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Pat Morita on what he learned from his friend Redd Foxx during his time on Sanford and Son
Pat Morita on doing voice over for the feature "Mulan," and on being inspired by Mel Blanc

Diversity in Television

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Pat Morita on racism in the television industry

Emmy Awards

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Pat Morita on appearing in Amos with Kirk Douglas for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award

Historic Events and Social Change

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Pat Morita on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II
Pat Morita on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps
Pat Morita on racism in the television industry

Overcoming Adversity

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Pat Morita on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II

Pivotal Career Moments

View Topic
Pat Morita on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II
Pat Morita on what he learned from his friend Redd Foxx during his time on Sanford and Son
Pat Morita on doing voice over for the feature "Mulan," and on being inspired by Mel Blanc

Pop Culture

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Pat Morita on his character of "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days

Television Industry

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Pat Morita on advice to aspiring actors

Underrepresented Voices

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Pat Morita on racism in the television industry

War

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Pat Morita on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II
Pat Morita on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps

World War II

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Pat Morita on his family being placed in an internment camp during World War II
Pat Morita on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps
Professions

Actor

View Profession
Pat Morita on starting to make the transition from comedian to actor
Pat Morita on he and his representatives realizing he wanted to be an actor, and on what it takes to make it as an actor
Pat Morita on advice to aspiring actors

Comedian

View Profession
Pat Morita on getting his foot in the door as a comedian, and on knowing Flip Wilson in the early years
Pat Morita on tailoring his stand up act for television, and on using his Japanese heritage in his act
Pat Morita on starting to make the transition from comedian to actor

Performers

View Profession
Pat Morita on getting his foot in the door as a comedian, and on knowing Flip Wilson in the early years
Pat Morita on tailoring his stand up act for television, and on using his Japanese heritage in his act
Pat Morita on starting to make the transition from comedian to actor
Pat Morita on he and his representatives realizing he wanted to be an actor, and on what it takes to make it as an actor
Pat Morita on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Comedy Series

View Genre
Pat Morita on appearing on M*A*S*H
Pat Morita on appearing on Love, American Style, where he worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris
Pat Morita on being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on playing "Arnold" on Happy Days
Pat Morita on starring on Mr. T. & Tina,
Pat Morita on appearing on Welcome Back, Kotter
Pat Morita on appearing as "Ah Chew" on Sanford and Son
Pat Morita on appearing in Garry Marshall's show Blansky's Beauties with Nancy Walker

Cop/Detective/Mystery Series

View Genre
Pat Morita on starring in Ohara
Pat Morita on appearing in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Pat Morita on how he came to appear on The Hollywood Palace

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

View Genre
Pat Morita on starring in Farewell to Manzanar, which portrayed the Japanese internment camps
Pat Morita on appearing in Hiroshima
Pat Morita on appearing in Amos with Kirk Douglas for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award
Pat Morita on appearing in Babes in Toyland with Drew Barrymore
Pat Morita on appearing in Larry Gelbart's Mastergate
People

Drew Barrymore

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Pat Morita on appearing in Babes in Toyland with Drew Barrymore

Jerry Belson

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Pat Morita on being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson

Mel Blanc

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Pat Morita on doing voice over for the feature "Mulan," and on being inspired by Mel Blanc

Tom Bosley

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Pat Morita on working with Tom Bosley as "Howard Cunningham" on Happy Days

Kirk Douglas

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Pat Morita on appearing in Amos with Kirk Douglas for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award

Redd Foxx

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Pat Morita on appearing as "Ah Chew" on Sanford and Son and on his friendship with Redd Foxx
Pat Morita on his friendship with Redd Foxx

Larry Gelbart

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Pat Morita on appearing in Larry Gelbart's Mastergate and The Day the World Ended

Ron Howard

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Pat Morita on working with Ron Howard as "Ritchie Cunningham" on Happy Days

James Komack

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Pat Morita on leaving Happy Days for Mr. T. & Tina, produced by James Komack

Garry Marshall

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Pat Morita on appearing on Love, American Style, where he worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris
Pat Morita on being cast as "Arnold Takahashi" on Happy Days by Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson
Pat Morita on appearing in Garry Marshall's show Blansky's Beauties with Nancy Walker

Erin Moran

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Pat Morita on Erin Moran as "Joanie Cunningham" on Happy Days

Donny Most

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Pat Morita on Donny Most as "Ralph Malph" on Happy Days

Jerry Paris

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Pat Morita on appearing on Love, American Style, where he worked with Garry Marshall and Jerry Paris

Marion Ross

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Pat Morita on working with Marion Ross and "Marion Cunningham" on Happy Days

Nancy Walker

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Pat Morita on appearing in Garry Marshall's show Blansky's Beauties with Nancy Walker

Anson Williams

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Pat Morita on Anson Williams as "Potsie Webber" on Happy Days

Henry Winkler

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Pat Morita on working with Henry Winkler as "Fonzie" on Happy Days

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