×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Machiko Kyo, Japanese Actress, Dies at 95

Machiko Kyo, an actress who starred in some of the most internationally acclaimed Japanese films of the postwar era, died in Tokyo on Sunday at age 95, her former studio Toho announced Tuesday. The cause of death was heart failure.

Born in Osaka in 1924 as Motoko Yano, she joined the Osaka Shochiku Girls Opera in 1936 and, using the stage name Machiko Kyo, the Daiei studio in 1949. Though viewed by studio boss Masaichi Nagata as a Japanese answer to the voluptuous Hollywood sirens of the era, she first came to attention of the world as the sexually assaulted wife of a murdered samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” (1950).  The winner of the Golden Lion at Venice, the film brought not only Kyo and Kurosawa but also Japanese cinema to the attention of the West.

Kyo followed up with starring roles in Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Ugetsu” (1953) and Teinosuke Kinugasa’s “Gate of Hell” (1953), with the former winning the Venice Silver Lion and the latter the Cannes Palme d’Or. She was a particular favorite of Mizoguchi, who also directed her in “Princess Yang Kwei-fei” (1955) and “Street of Shame” (1956).

Kyo also appeared opposite Marlon Brando in the 1956 cross-cultural comedy “The Teahouse of the August Moon.” Rather than pursue a career in Hollywood, however, Kyo continued to work with Japan’s master directors, including Yasujiro Ozu (“Floating Weeds,” 1959), Kon Ichikawa (“Odd Obsession, 1959) and Hiroshi Teshigahara (“The Face of Another,” 1966).

After Daiei’s bankruptcy in 1971 she appeared mainly in television dramas and on stage, with her film roles becoming fewer. Following a final stage role in 2006 in a woman-centered version of the classic Chushingura story, she retired from show business.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • For web story

    Toronto: Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'The Burnt Orange Heresy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony Pictures Classics has nabbed the rights to “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” Variety has learned. The indie label plans to release the film in 2020. The Italian-American thriller was directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and stars Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, and Donald Sutherland. Scott Smith adapted Charles Willeford’s novel of the same name, transporting [...]

  • Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis

    Thomasin McKenzie and Essie Davis to Star in 'Justice of Bunny King'

    Essie Davis, star of “The Babadook” and autumn festival hit “Babyteeth,” and “Jojo Rabbit” co-star Thomasin McKenzie will headline upcoming drama “The Justice of Bunny King.” The film, now shooting in New Zealand, is a triumph over adversity tale about women fighting their way back from the bottom of society. It is the debut feature [...]

  • Calm With Horses

    Nick Rowland Talks About Toronto Debut Film 'Calm With Horses'

    “Calm with Horses,” which made its world premiere in Toronto’s TIFF in the Discovery section, is the feature directorial debut of Nick Rowland (Amazon series “Ripper Street”), and stars Barry Keoghan (Marvel’s upcoming “The Eternals,” “Dunkirk”), Cosmo Jarvis (“Annihilation”), and Niamh Algar (BBC’s “The Virtues”). The script, which was adapted from Colin Barrett’s short story [...]

  • Colin Trevorrow Directs Jurassic World Short

    Colin Trevorrow Returns to Jurassic World in Short Film 'Battle at Big Rock'

    Dinosaurs are roaming the Earth again. In a new short from “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow, rogue beasts wreak havoc on a family camping trip. The eight-and-a-half minute film, titled “Battle at Big Rock,” takes place a year after the events of “Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom.” The 2018 blockbuster — starring Chris Pratt and Bryce [...]

  • Bert Kreischer The Machine

    Legendary Lands Rights to Bert Kreischer’s Viral Story 'The Machine' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Legendary has optioned the rights to develop comedian Bert Kreischer’s story “The Machine” into a feature film following its viral success, sources tell Variety. The video has generated more than 85 million views on Facebook and YouTube since hitting the social media channels in December 2016 and Legendary moved aggressively to land the rights. Kreischer [...]

  • Margot Robbie poses at the launch

    Margot Robbie in Talks to Executive Produce, Star in Comedy 'Fools Day'

    Margot Robbie is in negotiations to executive produce and star as a fourth-grade teacher in New Line’s comedy “Fools Day.” New Line has acquired Cody Blue Snider’s short film of the same name to adapt into the feature project. Snider, who co-wrote and directed the short, will direct the full-length feature from a script he [...]

  • M Night Shyamalan'Glass' film premiere, Arrivals,

    M. Night Shyamalan Sets Two New Films at Universal

    M. Night Shyamalan will write and direct two new movies at Universal Pictures, the studio announced Monday. The currently untitled thrillers will be released in theaters on Feb. 26, 2021 and Feb. 17, 2023, respectively. “M. Night Shyamalan continues to create exciting, highly original stories that keep global audiences on the edge of their seats,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content