Yuki Shimoda guest starred in 3 episodes of M*A*S*H, in Seasons 7, 8, and 9, appearing in different roles.
|Born:||August 10, 1921|
|Birthplace||Sacremento, California, U.S.|
|Died:||May 21, 1981(aged 59)|
|Deathplace||Los Angeles, California, U.S. (colon cancer)|
|Years active:||1953-1981, his death|
|Episodes appeared in:||3 in Seasons 8 and 9|
|Character played:||Key Yong Lu / Chung Ho Kim / Cho Pak|
Yuki Shimoda (August 10, 1921 - May 21, 1981) appeared in 3 episodes of of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, first in the season 7 episode "The Price", the season 8 episode "Yessir, That's Our Baby", and then the Season 9 episode "Oh, How We Danced". A couple of other noted TV series appearances in clude The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. His film appearances include Auntie Mame, Don't Give Up the Ship, Career, All in a Night's Work, A Majority of One, Once a Thief, Midway, MacArthur and Disney's The Last Flight of Noah's Ark.
Early life and careerEdit
Yuki was born Yukio Shimoda in Sacramento, California, the son of Chojiro Shimoda, who emigrated from the town of Shimoda in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyūshū in Japan. Chojiro left Japan in his early teens, because he did not want to be a sweet potato farmer on the family farm and was tired of eating sweet potatoes every day. Shimoda's mother was Kikuyo (Nakamura) Shimoda, also from Kumamoto prefecture. Kikuyo, which means chrysanthemum, was born to an influential, wealthy, noble samurai family; her father was a doctor. She left Japan to have freedom as a modern, American woman and to marry for love rather than marry by arrangement (omiai).
Shimoda was the oldest of three children. His younger brothers were Noboru "Dave" Shimoda, who lived to the age of 82, and James Shimoda, who died as a child of a bacterial infection before the age of antibiotics. Shimoda always had an interest in dancing and acting. As a child he insisted on being called Fred, because he wanted to be like Fred Astaire. In Sacramento, he worked in the family businesses, which included a restaurant, pool hall and boarding house. His parents' restaurant employed a Filipino cook and friend named Felix, who was killed in World War II by the Japanese. This hardened his intense feelings of being an American. His parents were hard working and affluent even during the Great Depression; Shimoda's father owned a Cadillac limousine that he bought from the Japanese government in a time when many people still owned horses.
As a child, Shimoda enjoyed being taken on aimless rides with the family in that big car. Shimoda worked hard in his adolescence to help his parents, but he made time to dance and act. His intense drive and determination helped him overcome what he lacked in natural ability. Once, in a sewing class in high school, he clumsily sewed his finger with a sewing machine. He studied ballet, as well as kendo and judo which helped him become more graceful. Shimoda did ballroom dancing with several women dance partners.
Yuki attended Sacramento High School. Studying an American curriculum by day, Shimoda filled his evenings and Saturdays attending Japanese language school. Yuki and Noboru were also Boy Scouts. Shimoda's studies at Sacramento Junior College (now known as Sacramento City College) were interrupted when, along with over 100,000 other Japanese American Issei, Nisei, Kibei Nisei and Sansei, his family was relocated to a Japanese American internment camp after the entry of the United States into World War II per Executive Order 9066.
His parents (Issei, or first generation immigrants to America from Japan) were incarcerated without a trial and for no just cause. He spent the duration of World War II in the Tule Lake War Relocation Center in northern California. Shimoda made the best of the incarceration by entertaining his fellow internees with his acting, dancing and singing abilities. Once he dressed like Carmen Miranda complete with fruit on his head to dance and sing to the delight of the camp audience. Seeing his parents lose all their hard-earned possessions and being incarcerated in a concentration camp was particularly hard for a Nisei like Shimoda, because he had been raised as an American.
Shimoda and Noboru tried to volunteer for the United States Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The recruiting officer laughed them out of the office by calling them the enemy. Shimoda was eventually classified 4F or ineligible for the draft due to a congenital heart murmur. As a child his parents were told that he would not live to adulthood due to his bad heart.
His brother, Noboru, went on to volunteer and serve with the regular United States Army at the end of World War II during the occupation of Japan after his release from the relocation center. He later fought in the Korean War earning the rank of Master Sergeant. Noboru served with the United States Army Military Intelligence, the Office of Strategic Services for the Allied Interpretation and Translation Service of the United States Army (ATIS); the United States Army Signal Corps; and the Military Police. Noboru was honorably discharged in 1952 and brought his Japanese war bride, Chieko Furusawa, of Yokohama, back to Chicago, Illinois to become a naturalized American citizen. Noboru picked Chicago, because Shimoda and his parents lived there for a while after being released from Tule Lake.
Shimoda left the concentration camp alone and was one of the first to leave. Evacuees were not allowed to go back to the West Coast at first and Shimoda was informed by officials at Tule Lake that Chicago was receptive to Japanese American resettlers, because Irish American politicians there—being victims of discrimination themselves—understood the predicament of the evacuees. Shimoda lived in Chicago for several years and graduated with a degree in accounting from Northwestern University. He worked at the University of Chicago and taught a Japanese language class.
Yuki studied improvisational acting with the Compass Players, who sprung from the University of Chicago, a precursor of the Second City. He spent many hours at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, then known as the Chicago Buddhist Church, with his friend, the Reverend Gyomay Kubose, discussing life and his purpose on this earth. He felt his purpose was to hone his acting skills on a daily basis so that his next performance would be the best he could deliver. As Shimoda learned in the Boy Scouts, he wanted to always "Be Prepared." He felt that by giving his all to what he believed in—changing the world for the better through his acting—he was not just spinning his wheels on earth. Many Asian American actors as Beulah Quo, the co-founder of East West Players, with Mako Iwamatsu considered him to be an actor's actor, which she stated in the documentary movie "Yuki Shimoda: Asian American Actor". Shimoda never married and did not have any children; the family name is carried on through Noboru's only son, Thomas Edward Shimoda, a practicing dentist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois, former Assistant State's Attorney of Cook County, Illinois, and a graduate of The Players Workshop of The Second City.
Death and legacyEdit
He died in Los Angeles at the age of 59 in 1981. His death was brought on by the onset of colon cancer that metastasized to his liver. Yuki's ashes were originally in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles at the Nishihongwanji Buddhist Temple. They have since been moved to Sacramento, California so, he could rest with his family in their hometown.
A 30-minute documentary film of his life was made and released in 1985 by Visual Communications (VC) of Los Angeles: Yuki Shimoda: Asian American Actor. It includes clips of an interview with him before his passing.
- Yuki Shimoda at the Internet Movie Database Retrieved on 2008-02-05
- Yuki Shimoda at Wikipedia
- Yuki Shimoda at Find a Grave memorial