Saturday, September 8, 2007

Miyoshi Umeki

Actress / singer Miyoshi Umeki passed away a week-and-a-half ago, on August 28th, at age 78.

She was the first Asian actress to win an Academy Award.
She won the best supporting actress Oscar in 1957 for her performance in the film 'Sayonara', based on the
James Michener novel.

She also made notable appearances in both the stage and film versions of
'Flower Drum Song', but of course I'll always remember her as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper on TV's
'The Courtship of Eddie's Father' from 1969 - '72.

I dearly loved that show as a little kid, and I remember at the time thinking it was the hippest thing on TV.

It was soon after its cancellation that she retired from showbiz.

See also:
- Miyoshi's IMDb listing

- Her obituary from The Washington Post

Born in Japan in 1929, in the years following WWII she became a popular nightclub singer while still in her teens, performing under the name of Nancy Umeki.

She emigrated to the US in 1955, signed a record deal with Mercury, and made several appearances on the Arthur Godfrey show, before being tapped for films and the Broadway stage.

Speaking strictly personally, I find the 'serene, child-like innocence' she was known for in performance just a tiny bit off-putting.
It seems an odd choice.
Maybe it was the era, or maybe it was just the niche she was meant to fill - - ?

Regardless, her voice was lovely.

From Miyoshi Umeki's 'Miyoshi' LP (Mercury Records, 1959),
listen to:

You Make Me Feel So Young
They Can't Take That Away From Me
That Old Feeling
Wonder Why
I Could Write A Book

(click for audio)

ADDENDUM, 6/20/08: Fans of 'Eddie's Father' may want to click over to PhillyRadioGeek's
Bill Bixby Tribute at Me And You And A Blog Name Boo. (follow link)


Anonymous said...

I have a record by Miyoshi, also called Miyoshi, also on Wing, but not the same record. The track list is
If I Give My Heart to You
China Nights
I'm in The Mood For Love
My Baby's Coming Home
How Deep Is The Ocean (How High Is The Sky)
Slowly Go Out Of Your Mind
Teach Me Tonight
Hanna Ko San
Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man
Over The Rainbow
The Little Lost Dog

I also used to love The Courtship of Eddy's Father. Did you know Brandon Cruz became a punk rocker? (I believe he sometimes fronts The Dead Kennedys these days).

The In Crowd said...

Hey, Swankola - -

Thanks for the note.

Yeah, Brandon Cruz was lead singer of the Oxnard punk band Dr. Know, going back to the '80's.

(Mostly I remember their logos and album covers done by Jaime Hernandez of Love & Rockets)

I'm not sure how long his stint w/ the Dead Kennedys was (how long ago did Jello and the band enter their legal difficulty stage?), but I think he left that gig a couple of years or so ago for another re-formation of Dr. Know...

...Whatever makes him happy is good with me!

Anonymous said...

As a child I first saw Ms Umeki in the movie Flower Drum Song and then again in Sayonara. My wife who is Thai (I'm caucasion)asked me once what influenced me to marry an Asian woman and I told her Miyoshi Umeki.
May God bless you Ms Umeki
and thank you!!

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