Monday, September 20, 2010

Actor Keiju Kobayashi, 1923 - 2010

by Chris MaGee

This past week saw the passing of yet another name from the days of classic Japanese film. Actor Keiju Kobayashi, best known to North American audiences for his roles in such films as Akira Kurosawa's "Sanjuro", Kihachi Okamoto's "Japan's Longest Day" and the voice of Shiro Nishi in Yoshifumi Kondo's animated "Whispers of the Heart" passed away last Thursday, September 16th, of heart failure. He was 86.

Kobayashi was born in Gunma Prefecture and started his career in show business after dropping out of Nihon University. He joined Nikkatsu in 1942 and would eventually star in nearly 200 films and television series over the next seven decades. His best known role in Japan was that of Taro, the bumbling salaryman in the long running series of "Shacho (Company President)" comedies put out by Toho between 1954 and 1967; but Kobayashi also won critical praise and awards for his role in Horikawa Hiromichi's 1960 film "Kuroi Gashu".

Thanks to Aaron Gerow for the details on Kobayashi's remarkable life and career. Our condolences go out to Kobayashi-san's family and friends. Here's the trailer for the 1959 entry into the "Shacho" series, "Shacho Taiheki" as a reminder of this great talent.

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