Actor Pat Morita, best known for his iconic role as martial-arts master/handy man Mr. Miyagi in THE KARATE KID franchise, has died, reported the AP. He was 73.
There were conflicting reports regarding the cause of death. His daughter Aly Morita stated he died Nov. 24, 2005, of heart failure at a Las Vegas hospital; while longtime manager Arnold Soloway said he died of kidney failure at a hospital where he was awaiting a transplant.
The KARATE KID role earned Morita an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. Prior to KARATE KID, Morita gained fame on TV as the diner owner Arnold Takahashi on HAPPY DAYS.
For his contribution to the world of animation, Morita provided the voice for the Emperor in Disneys MULAN in 1998 as well as its 2004 sequel MULAN II. Moreover, he recently provided voice work as a guest on Cartoon Networks ROBOT CHICKEN.
Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his youth in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. After his recovery he was sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.
Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.
He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.