Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (June 28, 1932 – November 24, 2005) was an American actor, voice actor, and comedian, known for his roles as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days (1975–1983), Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid film series, Mike Woo in The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, and The Emperor of China in Mulan and Mulan II. Morita was nominated for the 1985 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. Morita also portrayed Ah Chew in Sanford and Son (1974–1976).
Morita was the series lead actor in the television program Mr. T and Tina (1976) and in Ohara (1987–1988), a police-themed drama. The two shows made history for being among the few TV shows with an Asian American series lead.
Morita was born in Isleton, California in 1932. Morita's father Tamaru, born in 1897, had immigrated to California from Kumamoto Prefecture on the Japanese island of Kyushu in 1915. Tamaru's wife Momoe, born in 1903, had emigrated to California in 1913. Noriyuki, as Pat was named, had a brother named Hideo (Harry) who was twelve years older.
Morita developed spinal tuberculosis (Pott disease) at the age of two and spent the bulk of the next nine years in the Weimar Institute in Weimar, California, and later at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. For long periods he was wrapped in a full-body cast and was told that he would never walk. During his time at a sanatorium near Sacramento, Morita befriended a visiting priest who would often joke that, if Morita ever converted to Catholicism, the priest would rename him to "Patrick Aloysius Ignatius Xavier Noriyuki Morita". Released from the hospital at age 11 after undergoing extensive spinal surgery and learning how to walk, Morita was transported from the hospital directly to the Gila River camp in Arizona to join his interned family. After about a year and a half, he was transferred to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center.
For a time after the war, the family operated Ariake Chop Suey, a restaurant in Sacramento, California. Morita would entertain customers with jokes and serve as master of ceremonies for group dinners.
Morita began working as a stand-up comic after graduating from Armijo High School in Fairfield, California. He took the stage name "Pat Morita", in part due to the presence of comedians including Pat Henry and Pat Cooper, and in part due to memories of the priest he had befriended as a boy. Morita struggled for many years in comedy. Sally Marr, Lenny Bruce's mother, acted as his agent and manager in his early days. Morita sometimes worked as the opening act for singers Vic Damone and Connie Stevens and for his mentor, the comedian Redd Foxx. Foxx later gave him a role on his sitcom Sanford and Son in the early 1970s.