Miyoshi Umeki

From J-Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Miyoshi Umeki (梅木 美代志, Umeki Miyoshi, or ミヨシ・ウメキ Miyoshi Umeki, May 8, 1929 – August 28, 2007) was a Japanese-American singer and actress. Umeki was a Tony Award- and Golden Globe-nominated actress and the first East Asian-American woman to win an Academy Award for acting.

She was best known for her Oscar-winning role as Katsumi in the film Sayonara (1957), as well as Mei Li in the Broadway musical and 1961 film Flower Drum Song, and Mrs. Livingston in the television series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She was a shin Issei, or post-1945 immigrant from Japan.

Career

She was best known for her Oscar-winning role as Katsumi in the film Sayonara (1957), as well as Mei Li in the Broadway musical and 1961 film Flower Drum Song, and Mrs. Livingston in the television series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She was a shin Issei, or post-1945 immigrant from Japan.

She recorded for RCA Victor Japan from 1950 to 1954 and appeared in the film Seishun Jazu Musume. She recorded mostly American jazz standards, which she sang partially in Japanese and partially in English, or solely in either language. Some of the songs she sang during this period were "It Isn't Fair", "Sentimental Me", "My Foolish Heart", "With A Song In My Heart", "Again", "Vaya con Dios", "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" and "I'll Walk Alone". She moved to the United States in 1955 and after appearing on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts (she was a series regular for one season),[citation needed] she signed with the Mercury Records label and released several singles and two albums.

Her appearances on the Godfrey program brought her to the attention of director Joshua Logan, who cast her in Sayonara. Umeki won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Sayonara. She was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award for acting.

In 1958, she appeared twice on the variety show The Gisele MacKenzie Show in which she performed "How Deep Is the Ocean".

In 1958, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance in the Broadway premiere production of the musical Flower Drum Song, where she played Mei-Li. The show ran for two years. A cover story in Time stated "the warmth of her art works a kind of tranquil magic". Umeki appeared in the film adaptation of the musical. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Flower Drum Song.

Although a guest on many television variety shows, she appeared in only four more movies through 1962, including the film version of Flower Drum Song (1961). The others were Cry for Happy (1961), The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962) and A Girl Named Tamiko (1963).

From 1969 to 1972, she appeared in The Courtship of Eddie's Father as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She retired from acting following the end of the series.