James Shigeta, one of the best-known Asian-American actors for his roles in "Die Hard" and "Flower Drum Song," among other films, has died, Variety magazine reported. He was 81.
The third-generation Japanese-American actor died in his sleep on Monday and is perhaps best remembered for his 1988 role in "Die Hard" as businessman Joseph Takagi, who refused to give German terrorists the security code to a skyscraper's central control room and got a bullet in the head in return.
Shigeta's singing and dancing talents garnered him the main role in Ross Hunter's "Flower Drum Song," a movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical.
Years earlier, in 1976, he had appeared in the World War II megaproduction "Midway," where he played Japanese Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, a film that recounted the events of that seminal sea battle from both the U.S. and Japanese points of view.
Shigeta was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and studied at New York University before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps to fight in Korea.
He became a singing star in Japan without even knowing the language and made his film debut in "The Crimson Kimono" (1959), directed by Sam Fuller.
He earned a Golden Globe Award as the most promising young male actor in 1960, sharing the honor with George Hamilton, Troy Donahue and Barry Coe.
But his fame came mainly from his many television appearances in programs such as "Hawaii Five-O," "Perry Mason," "Mission: Impossible," "Ironside," "Kung Fu," "Streets of San Francisco," "The Love Boat" and "Beverly Hills, 90210."
Among his most popular films were the Elvis Presley musical "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" and "The Yakuza." His last film was "The People I've Slept With" (2009), directed by Quentin Lee. EFE