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 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 8:10 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

For those of you who have an interest, I wanted to pass along the sad news I just received that MIYOSHI UMEKI, winner of the “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar for SAYONARA in 1957, died last week in a small town in Missouri, according to her son, with whom I spoke over the weekend.

Umeki was born in 1929 in Hokkaido, Japan, and during the postwar occupation she came to fame in Japan as a pop singer, and also performed regularly for US troops stationed there, singing in Japanese and English. Upon arriving in the United States in the ‘50s, she made early appearances on television and radio, and soon signed with Arthur Godfrey as a singing personality, appearing with him on his ARTHUR GODFREY AND FRIENDS television show.

Umeki’s award for SAYONARA was the first time an Asian performer had ever won a performance Oscar, and the event was much celebrated in Japan, and given much publicity in the US and around-the-world as well. After completing SAYONARA, Miyoshi went to Broadway, and from 1958-1960, co-starred with Pat Suzuki in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG, directed by Gene Kelly. She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, and later recreated this role in the film version for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. Returning to Hollywood after Broadway, she made several more films including THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT, CRY FOR HAPPY, and A GIRL NAMED TAMIKO. In addition to her Broadway and Hollywood recordings of FLOWER DRUM SONG, she also recorded several albums for Mercury Records in the 1950s.

Younger television fans will remember her fondly as “Mrs. Livingston” in the 1969-1972 television series, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER.

Long the subject of “Where is she now?” speculation, Umeki retired from television when the COURTSHIP series ended, and, after the death of her second husband, a film producer-director, in 1976. She never remarried and lived quietly in the Valley Village-North Hollywood area of Los Angeles for 30 years, later moving to Missouri to be near her son and his family.

Umeki was always publicity-shy and private, and in later years various internet reports erroneously speculated that she had moved to Hawaii for a decade after running a dance studio in North Hollywood!!! She was amused by these reports but made no effort to correct them, preferring instead to stay out of the limelight. She was pleased that neighbors and acquaintances in Missouri who didn’t know of her Broadway fame and Oscar-winning past thought of her simply as “that little old Japanese lady.”

Umeki was fluent in English and, though eschewing television viewing as a pastime, kept up with news and current events, and preferred to spend her time reading books on history or classic novels---with author Charles Dickens a particular favorite.

Having worked with her husband on many projects in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I got to know Miyoshi quite well in that period---she would often visit us on our extended location shoots---and we remained friends for nearly 40 years, though, after the untimely death of her husband, she would, by choice, drift in and out of my life many times in the ensuing decades.

Over those years I had often talked about her to my partner, but he had never met her. Then, one day, in the early ‘90s, after I hadn’t heard from her in a number of years, I suddenly got an unexpected phone call from her and she asked if she could drop by in 15 minutes and bring something to me. I said, “Of course,” and soon she was on my doorstep with a lovely gift to thank me for a favor I had done her son. We expected that she would be there and then gone, but she stayed for nearly three hours and we all had a wonderful afternoon. In a way she reminded me of a lovely butterfly which lights on a flower momentarily and is then gone again. It was near Christmastime and we had our intricate “Dickens Village” table-top model set up for the holidays---a charming group of lighted porcelain buildings depicting various locales and buildings from the Dickens novels---and, as she stood looking at them, she pointed out each to us and told us what novel each building was from---even the obscure ones. We were impressed and amazed, because she had certainly not seen anything of this layout before that day!

In the last ten years or so, after her move to Missouri to be near her son, Miyoshi would call me---sometimes several times a week---and we often had long 2-hour phone chats which were delightful---discussions of our times together, of songs, of old movies, of Alfred Newman, of her career and all the other famous people she had worked with or met, from Brando and Gary Cooper to directors Josh Logan, and Gene Kelly and Henry Koster (both directors of her FLOWER DRUM experiences). We enjoyed many laughs in our conversations, but also thoughtful discussions about contemporary entertainment and world events. Over the years I attempted to encourage her to make her presence known publicly again, and enjoy the resurgence of interest in her, but she truly wanted not to be that public figure again---to put that life in the past and move on.

For my part, I will miss this very special lady, and the wonderful interaction and conversations we had over the years.


“……When I go to another place,
I am going to like it there…..”

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 9:18 AM   
 By:   MICHAEL HOMA   (Member)

very sad, i was one who tried to reach her , but she could not be found, ,,,,,,,,,and thank you for sharing all that about her life>...... do u know the exact date of her death?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 9:27 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Manderley - I'll admit that her name only barely registered with me, but never the less I was quite moved by your story. You should write a book (if indeed you haven't already).

Chris

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 9:36 AM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

Sad to hear the news. She seemed a gentle soul and I always enjoyed her film and Television performances.

Condolonces to her family and friends.

Zoob

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 10:08 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....very sad, i was one who tried to reach her , but she could not be found, ,,,,,,,,,and thank you for sharing all that about her life>...... do u know the exact date of her death?.....


Last Tuesday, August 28.


Michael.....I believe you once asked me about a recording of something from CRY FOR HAPPY. I asked her about this for you and she said she didn't make any commercial recording from the film, so we assumed the item you were referring to was either a limited promo or commercial release of something she might have recorded for within the film itself, or something which she had no connection with at all. Sorry we weren't of more help.

Did you actually find this recording or is it a phantom catalog number for something that doesn't really exist?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 10:15 AM   
 By:   MICHAEL HOMA   (Member)

.....very sad, i was one who tried to reach her , but she could not be found, ,,,,,,,,,and thank you for sharing all that about her life>...... do u know the exact date of her death?.....


Last Tuesday, August 28.


Michael.....I believe you once asked me about a recording of something from CRY FOR HAPPY. I asked her about this for you and she said she didn't make any commercial recording from the film, so we assumed the item you were referring to was either a limited promo or commercial release of something she might have recorded for within the film itself, or something which she had no connection with at all. Sorry we weren't of more help.

Did you actually find this recording or is it a phantom catalog number for something that doesn't really exist?
....thanks manderley, you are right , i did ask u about CRY FOR HAPPY , all the information i had was that there was a 45 promo,,, but i have searched and searched,,,,, and have had no luck finding it ,,,,,, and thanks again for all the help .

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 10:19 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Manderley - I'll admit that her name only barely registered with me, but never the less I was quite moved by your story. You should write a book (if indeed you haven't already).

Chris.....



Thank you for your kind thoughts, Chris.

Your comments and literary musings are always something I appreciate and look forward to seeing in print.

As for Umeki---you're far too young to remember anything of those days. smile

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 10:26 AM   
 By:   Donna   (Member)

Wonderful tribute for a lovely lady. i hope you share this with her family.

Loved her in ...Eddie's Father. She was so sweet in a feel-good show. I'll never forget the pictures of father and son playing together.

I hope that she is joined with her dear husband and flying with angels.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 11:41 AM   
 By:   Preston Neal Jones   (Member)

Funny the junk that sticks to your mind after all these years. I still remember the TIME Magazine review of CRY FOR HAPPY, warning viewers that the film would make them "yawn for sleepy."

***

On a MUCH more serious note, your post is one of the most beautiful and historically significant to grace this message board. I'm so glad that you had each other in your lives.
I do hope her family will notify the news services (and the Academy) of her passing. There are a lot of us out there who will need to mourn.

 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 11:44 AM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

This is so sad. I saw her in Flower Drum Song, both on stage and the film. Plus her other films and television appearances. She was always a favorite. My she rest in peace.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 11:51 AM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)

smile Maestro Manderley smile ...

Aside from echoing everyone else's compliments re your tasteful, touching and elegant elogy, we'd also (again) raise the percolating possibility that you do, seriously and sincerely, give substantial thought to putting your impressions down permanently.

Not just for your adventures in the cinematic arts but for the grounded attitude of gratitude which always elevates your sharings into something truly special.

Befitting the gentleman - and gentle man - behind the conversational curtain ...

 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 12:43 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Why is it, that she has no formal obituary?

 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 12:56 PM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

I loved her on The Courtship of Eddie's Father. I grew up on that show and always thought she was a warm and sweet presence, and I never forgot the creepy horror episode with the shadow on the wall!

 
 Posted:   Sep 4, 2007 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   CH-CD   (Member)


I'm so very sorry to hear of this sad loss M.
Miyoshi always appeared to be a very sweet and charming lady, as well as a very good actress.

Thank-you so much for your beautiful and very eloquent eulogy. She obviously had a very good friend in you.

You have filled in a lot of gaps for those of us who had often wondered what this lovely lady was doing since her last screen appearance. Now we know.
I shall watch "Flower Drum Song" tomorrow and enjoy, all over again her delicate and beautiful performance.

God Bless Miyoshi...and thank-you.


 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 7:36 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

John Maher asked:

.....Why is it, that she has no formal obituary?.....

I notified the Motion Picture Academy, CNN, Daily Variety, and The Hollywood Reporter yesterday morning, and I see that the AP has finally picked up the story with a nice obit here:

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/05/america/NA-GEN-US-Obit-Miyoshi-Umeki.php



One of the fellows on the CASTRECL eMail website has also posted a lovely, and excellently detailed obituary which has appeared in the Washington Post today under a reporter's byline, as well:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/05/AR2007090501484.html?hpid=moreheadlines


I see that Pat Saperstein, DAILY VARIETY's obit editor has essentially re-written what I sent her via eMail yesterday and now it appears here:

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117971375.html?categoryid=13&cs=1&nid=2564


Remember.....you heard it here FIRST, folks! A FSM scoop!


Miyoshi wouldn't say much about all this if she were alive, but I'm sure she would be secretly thrilled at the nice comments and how she is remembered, not only by our board members, but as indicated in the obits.

(With your permission, I will make a copy of this thread and send it to her son for his family's scrapbooks of their grandmother.)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 8:07 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

YouTube FLOWER DRUM SONG clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvLUKmprbSU


(I remember Miyoshi telling me that she felt director Henry Koster, at this point in his career, didn't have much interest in filmmaking, and wished they could have had a more-involved musically-oriented director on the production. Too bad Gene Kelly didn't direct the film, too! Wonder why he didn't.)

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 5, 2007 - 8:32 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

I NEVER knew this---she made the cover of TIME MAGAZINE!:

http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,1101581222,00.html

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2013 - 1:29 PM   
 By:   kaloha   (Member)

Hi Manderley,
My name is Kaitlin Harrison and I work for Topspin Creative, a Japanese media production company based in New York City. We are currently gathering information for the filming of a documentary about Miyoshi Umeki. I was wondering if I could talk with you via telephone or email and get some information regarding your relationship and friendship with Ms. Umeki. Please email me at research@topspincreative.com at your earliest convenience. Thank you so much for your cooperation, and I hope we can touch base soon. Thanks!

For those of you who have an interest, I wanted to pass along the sad news I just received that MIYOSHI UMEKI, winner of the “Best Supporting Actress” Oscar for SAYONARA in 1957, died last week in a small town in Missouri, according to her son, with whom I spoke over the weekend.

Umeki was born in 1929 in Hokkaido, Japan, and during the postwar occupation she came to fame in Japan as a pop singer, and also performed regularly for US troops stationed there, singing in Japanese and English. Upon arriving in the United States in the ‘50s, she made early appearances on television and radio, and soon signed with Arthur Godfrey as a singing personality, appearing with him on his ARTHUR GODFREY AND FRIENDS television show.

Umeki’s award for SAYONARA was the first time an Asian performer had ever won a performance Oscar, and the event was much celebrated in Japan, and given much publicity in the US and around-the-world as well. After completing SAYONARA, Miyoshi went to Broadway, and from 1958-1960, co-starred with Pat Suzuki in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG, directed by Gene Kelly. She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, and later recreated this role in the film version for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe award. Returning to Hollywood after Broadway, she made several more films including THE HORIZONTAL LIEUTENANT, CRY FOR HAPPY, and A GIRL NAMED TAMIKO. In addition to her Broadway and Hollywood recordings of FLOWER DRUM SONG, she also recorded several albums for Mercury Records in the 1950s.

Younger television fans will remember her fondly as “Mrs. Livingston” in the 1969-1972 television series, THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE’S FATHER.

Long the subject of “Where is she now?” speculation, Umeki retired from television when the COURTSHIP series ended, and, after the death of her second husband, a film producer-director, in 1976. She never remarried and lived quietly in the Valley Village-North Hollywood area of Los Angeles for 30 years, later moving to Missouri to be near her son and his family.

Umeki was always publicity-shy and private, and in later years various internet reports erroneously speculated that she had moved to Hawaii for a decade after running a dance studio in North Hollywood!!! She was amused by these reports but made no effort to correct them, preferring instead to stay out of the limelight. She was pleased that neighbors and acquaintances in Missouri who didn’t know of her Broadway fame and Oscar-winning past thought of her simply as “that little old Japanese lady.”

Umeki was fluent in English and, though eschewing television viewing as a pastime, kept up with news and current events, and preferred to spend her time reading books on history or classic novels---with author Charles Dickens a particular favorite.

Having worked with her husband on many projects in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, I got to know Miyoshi quite well in that period---she would often visit us on our extended location shoots---and we remained friends for nearly 40 years, though, after the untimely death of her husband, she would, by choice, drift in and out of my life many times in the ensuing decades.

Over those years I had often talked about her to my partner, but he had never met her. Then, one day, in the early ‘90s, after I hadn’t heard from her in a number of years, I suddenly got an unexpected phone call from her and she asked if she could drop by in 15 minutes and bring something to me. I said, “Of course,” and soon she was on my doorstep with a lovely gift to thank me for a favor I had done her son. We expected that she would be there and then gone, but she stayed for nearly three hours and we all had a wonderful afternoon. In a way she reminded me of a lovely butterfly which lights on a flower momentarily and is then gone again. It was near Christmastime and we had our intricate “Dickens Village” table-top model set up for the holidays---a charming group of lighted porcelain buildings depicting various locales and buildings from the Dickens novels---and, as she stood looking at them, she pointed out each to us and told us what novel each building was from---even the obscure ones. We were impressed and amazed, because she had certainly not seen anything of this layout before that day!

In the last ten years or so, after her move to Missouri to be near her son, Miyoshi would call me---sometimes several times a week---and we often had long 2-hour phone chats which were delightful---discussions of our times together, of songs, of old movies, of Alfred Newman, of her career and all the other famous people she had worked with or met, from Brando and Gary Cooper to directors Josh Logan, and Gene Kelly and Henry Koster (both directors of her FLOWER DRUM experiences). We enjoyed many laughs in our conversations, but also thoughtful discussions about contemporary entertainment and world events. Over the years I attempted to encourage her to make her presence known publicly again, and enjoy the resurgence of interest in her, but she truly wanted not to be that public figure again---to put that life in the past and move on.

For my part, I will miss this very special lady, and the wonderful interaction and conversations we had over the years.


“……When I go to another place,
I am going to like it there…..”

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2013 - 2:10 PM   
 By:   janet.bvua@gmail.com   (Member)

Hello Manderley,
My name is Kaitlin Harrison and I a researcher for Topspin Creative, a Japanese TV production company located in NYC. We are currently working on producing a segment on Ms. Miyoshi Umeki for our "Nonfiction W" documentary series. I saw your post here, and I would love to have the opportunity to speak with you a little about your friendship with Ms. Umeki and anecdotes about her. It would be great if we could touch base either over the phone or via email, at your earliest convenience, since filming is set to begin in January. Please email me at research@topspincreative.com. Thank you so much for your help, and I look forward to touching base with you soon. Thanks!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 22, 2013 - 5:26 PM   
 By:   Gordon Reeves   (Member)







frown frown

 
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