Morita has the distinction of being the only Asian-American to garner
an Oscar nomination in an acting category — for The Karate Kid . Sure,
other actors of Asian descent have been nominated and even won,
including the guy who beat Morita for Best Supporting Actor: Haing S. Ngor ( The Killing Fields ). But Morita — also famous for his role on Happy Days — was the only one born in the United
States…even if his roles often dictated he affect an Asian-type accent or broken English.
in the annals of Academy Awards history is especially appropriate because
he and Mr. Miyagi, his Karate Kid alter ego, were both victims of a dark episode in WWII history, the internment of
almost 120,000 people of Japanese descent — most of them U.S. citizens — following Pearl Harbor.
As a child, Morita and his family were sent to Manzanar, the most well-known of the camps. In an interview with the AP, he recalled, “I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece.” In 1976, he revisited the location when he starred in Farewell to Manzanar , a TV movie based on a best-selling memoir set in the camps.Read More