Thesp Hideko Takamine dies at 86

Acclaimed actor was star of Japanese cinema

Tokyo– Actress Hideko Takamine, who was the muse of 1950s and ’60s greats Keisuke Kinoshita and Mikio Naruse, died Dec. 28 in Tokyo of lung cancer. She was 86.

Takamine made her screen bow at age 5 in the 1929 silent “Mother.” She quickly rose to fame as Japan’s answer to Shirley Temple.

Appearing in dozens of pics throughout the 1930s. Takamine made a smooth transition to teen roles, including the lead in the 1941 “Hideko the Bus Conductor,” her first pic with Naruse.

Her true flowering as a thesp, however, came after the war, during what came to be called the Golden Age of Japanese cinema. She starred as an exotic dancer returning to her rural hometown in Kinoshita’s 1951 “Carmen Comes Home,” Japan’s first all-color pic. Among her other well-remembered roles with the helmer were the dedicated teacher on an impoverished island in 1954’s “Twenty-four Eyes” and the stoic lighthouse keeper’s wife in 1957’s “The Lighthouse.”

Abroad, Takamine is most celebrated for her association with Naruse, with whom she made the classics 1955’s “Floating Clouds,” 1956’s “Flowing,” 1960’s “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs” and “Daughters, Wives and a Mother,” 1963’s “A Woman’s Life” and 1964’s”Yearning.”

In these pics, Takamine often played women of marginal status in a family, such as the war widow in “Yearning,” or society as whole, such as the bar proprietress in “When a Woman Ascends the Stairs,” who carry on with grit and determination, though their fates are seldom happy.

In 1955 she married helmer and scripter Zenzo Matsuyama, a frequent Naruse collaborator, who survives her.

Takamine retired from pics in 1979 and enjoyed a second career as an award-winning essayist.

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