×

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

  • Tuva-Novotny

    Tuva Novotny Questions Monogamy in 'Diorama' Pic (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Actress-turned-helmer Tuva Novotny thrives on big challenges. Her feature debut “Blindspot,” Norway’s entry for the 2019 Nordic Council Prize, was shot in real-time in one take and illuminates mental health issues. Her sophomore mainstream Swedish pic “Britt Marie Was Here” –slated for a Sept. 20 U.S. release via Cohen Media Group –  [...]

  • Seizure

    Writer Megan Gallagher On Her Viaplay Supernatural Nordic-Noir 'Seizure'

    With outposts in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo, Miso Film has become one of the most influential film and TV outfits in Scandinavia. On August 19, the company’s Norwegian arm lifted the curtain on its series venture, the supernatural police drama “Seizure” by premiering the show’s first two episodes at the Haugesund Film Festival ahead of [...]

  • Thoma-Robsahm

    World Partners Board “a-ha The Movie” as Helmer Tells It All (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Pitched at Haugesund’s New Nordic Films confab, Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm’s doc “a-ha -The Movie” won’t hit screens before November 2020, but an array of new production and distribution partners have already boarded the project. Clementina Hegewisch of Neue Impuls and Matthias Greving of Kinescope Film in Germany are now co-producing [...]

  • “@Chica-Chile-Norway”

    Miso Film Norway Unveils ‘Tainted’ Details, Drive to Target Youth Audiences (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  — Miso Film Norge, the Oslo-based arm of one of the most prominent of Scandinavian production outfits whose credits include “1864,” Warrior“ and Netflix’s “The Rain,” has part lifted the curtain on its latest scripted venture, the teen revenge-thriller “Tainted.” The TV outfit produced the 8×30 series in collaboration with Norwegian public broadcaster [...]

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content