Takarada Akira, Early ‘Godzilla’ Film Star, Dead at 87

Takarada Akira, well known for his roles in the early “Godzilla” films and other Toho kaiju (monster) and sci-fi films from the 1950s and 1960s, died on March 14, at the age of 87. The reason of death has yet to be revealed.

Takarada, who was born in Japan-occupied Korea in 1934, immigrated to Japan with his family in 1948 as a Mandarin Chinese and English speaker. After passing the Toho studio’s “New Face” audition, he was hired in 1953. He made an impression as a Navy diver in the original 1954 “Godzilla,” and was later cast in series sequels such as “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964), “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), and “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966). (1966).

Takarada Akira
Takarada also starred in films directed by Ozu Yasujiro and Naruse Miko, as well as musicals, melodramas, historical dramas, and other studio staples.

Takarada’s film appearances became fewer with the fall of Japan’s studio system in the 1970s, though his career recovered in the 1990s with supporting roles in Itami Juzo’s films. He also appeared in new “Godzilla” films such as 1992’s “Godzilla vs. Mothra” and 2002’s “Godzilla: Final Wars.” He is credited as a Japanese immigration agent in Garth Edwards’ 2014 picture “Godzilla,” albeit his sequences were removed.

Takarada, who was known in his studio heyday for his leading man good looks and air of sophistication, became a darling on the Godzilla fan circuit in his later years, attending at conventions and mingling with fans. He also performed in a number of theater musicals.

Takarada addressed the war in Ukraine during his final public appearance on March 10 for the Miyake Nobuyuki film “If Cherry Blossoms Disappeared from the World),” in which he plays an end-of-life counsellor, saying, “Looking at the current situation, I think we have to make more socially conscious films.” In Japan, the film will be released on April 1.

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