Regarding the story “Mifune: The making of Japan’s ‘Last Samurai’ ” in the Nov. 19 edition, how soon they forget. Or is it that they simply don’t know? I met Toshiro Mifune for the first time when he appeared at the old Toho Theater in Times Square (New York) back in the early 1960s when Japanese films were routinely shown there to interested audiences. But I remind the author and readers that he was preceded in international stardom by the late Sessue Hayakawa as far back as the 1910s when he was a silent film star, a leading man who “crossed over” as a matinee idol in Europe and North America.
For decades Hayakawa appeared in films made in the U.S. and several European nations, and Japan as well. In later years he starred in films like “The Bridge On the River Kwai,” for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.
More than just an actor, he was making over $1 million a year in the 1920s when that was real money. Celebrate Mifune, of course, he was a marvelous actor, but he was not the first Asian or Japanese actor to achieve worldwide acclaim. In so many ways Hayakawa was a precursor for what Mifune was able to accomplish.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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