Actor, activist and influentials member of the Japanese American community, Rodney Kageyama, died in his sleep Dec. 9. He was 77.
The SAG member was known for roles in “Karate Kid IV” with Hillary Swank, Ron Howard’s film “Gung Ho” and the spinoff sitcom, and the TV movie “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes” with Max Von Sydow.
Kageyama was an important activist for the Asian American community. He was a regular emcee in downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo, and was praised for using his voice to advocate for Asian American representation in the entertainment industry. A member of several social activist groups and community organizations, Kageyama was associated with The Asian American Pacific Artists Association, The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), East West Players, The Japanese American National Museum, and Nisei Week Japanese Festival.
Before he moved to Los Angeles in 1979, Kageyama began his acting career in San Francisco in 1965 as an original member of the Asian American Theater Company. In Los Angeles, he joined the East West Players as an actor, director and designer, where he played Erronius in a 2001 all Asian American production of the musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” In 2005, the EWP awarded him the Ray Creevy Award at their 29th anniversary celebration.
He has been volunteering at the Japanese American National Museum for the past ten years, where he started a children’s storytelling program. He was honored just last month at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s Autumn Festival.
Kageyama is survived by his husband, Ken White.