He was the king of monster movies.
Akira Takarada, a Japanese actor and voice actor best known for his role in the original 1954 Godzilla, died Monday at the age of 87. His death was confirmed by Toho Studios, which produced the original monster film.
“We are saddened to hear of the death of Akira Takarada,” they wrote in a Thursday tweet. “May his memory continue to inspire the lives of many Godzilla fans.”
Toho didn’t reveal a cause of death, but Takarada suffered from debilitating back pain and had been hospitalized on and off for the past several years, Anime News Network reported. On March 10, Takarada appeared in a wheelchair at a fan welcome event for his film Yononaka ni Taete Sakura no Nakariseba (“Sustain the World and Lycee in the Cherry Blossoms”).
Takarada was born on April 29, 1934 and is best known for his role as the sailor Hideto Ogata in the original 1954 film Godzilla. His character worked with the Japan Coast Guard after the first ship destroyed by Godzilla sent out a distress signal, and witnessed the monster’s death at the hands of the oxygen destroyer at the end of the film.
The actor also appeared in the American remake Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956) with Raymond Burr.
From then on, Takarada starred in a number of films with the King of the Monsters, including Mothra vs Godzilla (1964) and Godzilla vs Mothra (1992). The actor’s last appearance in a Godzilla flick was in Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), although he did shoot scenes for the 2014 US reboot Godzilla, which sadly didn’t make the final cut. However, he is still seen in the film’s end credits.
Along with his work on the Godzilla franchise, Takarada has appeared in other atomic age monster mashes from Invasion of the Astro-Monster (1965) to Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) and Toho’s King Kong Escapes ( 1967). ).
The actor’s star presence wasn’t limited to just in front of the camera. A prolific voice actor, Takarada has done the Japanese voice acting for Doctor Doolittle (1967), in which he voiced the title character, as well as Disney animated films The Great Mouse Detective (1986) and Aladdin. (1992), voicing the villains Ratigan and Jafar. He reprized his last voiceover role for the video games Kingdom Hearts.
Godzilla fans sent their condolences to the monster movie giant.
“Thank you Akira Takarada for loving Godzilla so much.” wrote a dejected fan on Twitter. “Your enthusiasm, love and support for the series has meant so much to me and to all Godzilla fans around the world. you are an icon Our hero.”
“Rest in Peace to Akira Takarada”, said another. “His impact on Japanese pop culture was irreplaceable and he will forever be remembered as a legend. RIP KING, may you rest in peace knowing that you have changed the lives of millions.”