Pat Morita is a Japanese-American Academy Award nominated actor who is best known for playing his roles in the TV show Happy Days and in the Karate Kid movie series.
Pat Morita was born Noriyuki Morita on June 28, 1932 in Isleton, CA. His parents were originally from a little village of Kumamoto in the island of Kyushu, Japan and migrated to the US in around 1912. Noriyuki had acquired spinal tuberculosis at the age of 2 and has spent most of his childhood in a full body cast. His parents were even told by the medical professionals during that time that the young Morita would not make it or would not walk again if he did. Noriyuki, however, learned to walk again through experimental tests conducted to him in the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco and the aid of the then newly developed wonder drug called penicillin.
During World War II, he and his family were sent to internment camps. At some point, Noriyuki would meet a catholic priest who would give him a long name which Noriyuki would remember by heart. Apparently, this name would start with Patrick from whence comes the nickname “Pat” which Noriyuki would later use as his stage name and be known to be as. In internment camps, Noriyuki and his friends would hear radio drama series such as “The Lone Ranger,” “I love a Mystery,” and “The Green Hornet,” but the young Morita would become attached to the comedies.
Having spent most of his childhood in the hospital and internment camps, Noriyuki would learn to amuse himself which became useful to him later in his life. Shortly after the war, his family would operate a restaurant in Sacramento. Having been “mesmerized” by the sound of people’s laughter, Noriyuki would entertain the customers with jokes and would serve as a Master of Ceremonies for group dinners. He would eventually make his way to the television, starting out as a stand-up comedian and join the comedy troupe “The Groundlings.” Morita appeared in TV shows such as “M*A*S*H,” “Happy Days,” “Mr. T and Tina,” “Blansky’s Beauties,” and “Sanford and Son.” He also starred in films like “Thoroughly Modern Millie” and “Midway” but would gain his prominence as Mr. Miyagi in “The Karate Kid” where he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He would cast on other roles until his death on November 24, 2005 at the age of 73.
Joseph Barbera is a well-known animator, director, and producer whose work has entertained and continues to entertain millions of fans worldwide. His collaboration with William Hanna produced some of the best remembered cartoons such as “Tom and Jerry,” “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” “Scooby-Doo,” and “Yogi Bear.”
Barbera was born on March 24, 1911 in New York to parents of Sicilian descent. During childhood, Barbera already liked to reading books and comic books. Fan of western adventures but also have a liking for comedies and dramas, but particularly loved the Broadway musicals.
His talent and liking for drawing enabled Barbera to pursue a career as a cartoonist. He was however at first unsuccessful finding a job as a cartoonist but found a job at a bank from which he supported himself. While working at the bank, Barbera would draw cartoons. He would draw until late at night and had his drawings published in some magazines such as the Redbook, Sunday Evening Post, and Colliers. He acquired a job at Van Beuren Studios as an animator. However, Barbera still has no idea how animation works at that time. He later learned the art of animation through the help of Carlo Vinci and practiced with the art for six months. In 1936, Van Beuren shut down and Barbera moved to Terrytoons. He would find his big break in his career when he joined the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) studios, still as an animator, where he met William Hanna, then another animator. By 1939, Hanna and Barbera would develop their partnership and worked alongside Tex Avery, the creator of Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. In 1940, Hanna and Barbera directed a short cartoon film “Puss Gets the Boots” which earned a nomination for Academy Award for Best (Cartoon) Short Subject. The characters in the short film became the model for the TV animation “Tom and Jerry” which won seven out of the 14 Academy Awards nominations. Hanna and Barbera’s collaboration would eventually lead the two to start their own company, now known as the Hanna-Barbera Productions. Hanna and Barbera would continue to collaborate, introducing more cartoon characters and cartoons that revolved around friendship or partnership. William Hanna died March 22, 2001 and Joseph Barbera on December 18, 2006 but their legacy lives on.