Takarada Akira, best known as a star in the early “Godzilla” films and Toho’s other kaiju (monster) and sci-fi movies from the 1950s and 1960s, died on Monday. He was 87. The cause of death has not been announced.
Born in 1934 in Japan-occupied Korea, Takarada came with his family to Japan in 1948 as a speaker of Mandarin Chinese and English. In 1953 he entered the Toho studio after passing the studio’s “New Face” audition. He made an impression in a major role as a Navy diver in the original 1954 “Godzilla” and thereafter was cast in series follow-ups including “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964), “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965), and “Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster” (1966).
Takarada also appeared in films by Ozu Yasujiro and Naruse Miko as well as musical films, melodramas, period dramas and other mainstay studio genres.
After the collapse of Japan’s studio system in the 1970s Takarada’s appearances in films became fewer though his career revived in the 1990s with supporting roles in the films of Itami Juzo. He also appeared in new entries in the “Godzilla” series such as the 1992 “Godzilla vs. Mothra” and the 2002 “Godzilla: Final Wars.” He is credited in the 2014 Garth Edwards “Godzilla” as a Japanese immigration agent, though his scenes were cut from the film.
Known in his studio heyday for his leading man good looks and air of sophistication, Takarada in his latter years became a favorite on the Godzilla fan circuit, appearing at conventions and interacting with fans. He also appeared in several stage musicals.
At his last public appearance on March 10, for the Miyake Nobuyuki film “If Cherry Blossoms Disappeared from the World),” in which he plays and end-of-life counsellor, Takarada referred to the war in Ukraine, saying that “Looking at the current situation, I think we have to make more socially conscious films.” The film will be released in Japan on April 1.