World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Miyoshi Umeki

Article Id: WHEBN0000766070
Reproduction Date:

Title: Miyoshi Umeki  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Sayonara, Flower Drum Song, Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Miiko Taka, Bill Bixby
Collection: 1929 Births, 2007 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Musicians, 20Th-Century Japanese Musicians, Actresses of Japanese Descent, American Female Pop Singers, American Film Actresses, American Musical Theatre Actresses, American Musicians of Japanese Descent, American Television Actresses, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award Winners, Cancer Deaths in Missouri, Japanese Emigrants to the United States, Japanese Female Singers, Japanese Musical Theatre Actresses, Musicians from Hokkaido, People from Otaru, Hokkaido, People from Texas County, Missouri, Traditional Pop Music Singers
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Miyoshi Umeki

Miyoshi Umeki
Born (1929-05-08)May 8, 1929
Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan
Died August 28, 2007(2007-08-28) (aged 78)
Licking, Missouri, U.S.
Occupation Actress, singer
Years active 1953–1972
Spouse(s) Wynn Opie (1958–1967)
Randall Hood (1968–1976)
Children 1

Miyoshi Umeki (梅木 美代志 Umeki Miyoshi, or ミヨシ・ウメキ Miyoshi Umeki; May 8, 1929 – August 28, 2007[1]) was a naturalized American actress and standards singer. She was best known for her roles as Katsumi, the wife of Joe Kelly (Red Buttons), in the 1957 film Sayonara, as Mei Li in the 1958 Broadway musical and 1961 film Flower Drum Song, and as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper of Bill Bixby's and Brandon Cruz's characters, in the TV series The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She was a shin Issei or post-1945 immigrant from Japan. She was a Tony Award- and Golden Globe-nominated actress and was the first (and, as of 2015, the only) Asian woman to win an Academy Award for acting.[2]


  • Life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Death 4
  • Discography 5
    • RCA Victor Japan (1950–1954) 5.1
    • Singles on Mercury Records (1955–1959) 5.2
    • Albums on Mercury Records 5.3
    • Film Themes 5.4
    • Cast recordings 5.5
  • Filmography 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Born in Otaru, Hokkaidō,[1] she was the youngest of nine children. Her father owned an iron factory.[1] After World War II, Umeki began her career as a nightclub singer in Japan, using the name Nancy Umeki,[3] Her early influences were traditional Kabuki theater and American pop music.[1] Later, in one of her appearances on The Merv Griffin Show, she treated viewers to her impression of singer Billy Eckstine, one of her American favorites growing up.


She recorded for RCA Victor Japan[1] from 1950–1954 and appeared in the film Seishun Jazu Musume. She recorded mostly American jazz standards, which she sang partially in Japanese and partially in English, or solely in either language. Some of the songs she sang during this period were It Isn't Fair, Sentimental Me, My Foolish Heart, With A Song In My Heart, Again, Vaya Con Dios, (How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window? and I'll Walk Alone. She moved to the United States in 1955[1][3] and after appearing on the Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts (she was a series regular for one season),[4] she signed with the Mercury Records label and released several singles and two albums.[1]

Her appearances on the Godfrey program brought her to the attention of director Joshua Logan, who cast her in Sayonara.[2] Umeki won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Sayonara. She was the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award for acting.[2] In 1958, she appeared twice on the NBC variety show, The Gisele MacKenzie Show in which she performed "How Deep Is the Ocean".

In 1958, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance in the Broadway premiere production of the musical Flower Drum Song,[2] where she played Mei-Li.[5] The show ran for two years. A Time magazine cover story said that "the warmth of her art works a kind of tranquil magic".[1] Umeki went on to appear in the film adaptation of the musical.[3] She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Flower Drum Song.

Although a guest on many television variety shows, she appeared in only four more motion pictures through 1962, including the film version of Flower Drum Song (1961). The others were Cry for Happy (1961), The Horizontal Lieutenant (1962) and A Girl Named Tamiko (1963). From 1969–1972 she appeared in The Courtship of Eddie's Father as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper, for which she was again nominated for a Golden Globe Award. She retired from acting following the end of the series.

Personal life

Her first marriage, to television director Frederick Winfield "Wynn" Opie in 1958, ended in divorce[1] in 1967. The couple had one son — Michael H. Opie, born in 1964.[1] She married Randall Hood in 1968, and her son's name was changed to Michael Randall Hood.[6] The couple operated a Los Angeles-based business renting editing equipment to film studios and university film programs.[1] Randall Hood died in 1976.[2]


According to her son, Umeki lived in Sherman Oaks for a number of years[3] before moving to Licking, Missouri, to be near her son and his family, which included two grandchildren. She died at the age of 78 from cancer complications.[7]


RCA Victor Japan (1950–1954)

During her recording career in Japan, Miyoshi recorded the following songs:

(two other Japanese language songs were recorded in 1952)

Singles on Mercury Records (1955–1959)

She signed with Mercury Records in 1955 and recorded the following 45 rpm singles:

  • How Deep Is The Ocean/Why Talk (1955)
  • The Little Lost Dog/The Story You're About To Hear Is True (1956)
  • The Mountain Beyond The Moon/Oh What Good Company We Could Be (with Red Buttons) (1957)
  • Sayonara(The Japanese Farewell Song)/Be Sweet Tonight (1957)
  • Sayonara/On And On (1957)

Miyoshi recorded a version of Pick Yourself Up for Mercury Records in 1959, but the song was never released.

Albums on Mercury Records

Miyoshi Sings For Arthur Godfrey (MG-20165) (1956) Tracks:

Miyoshi (album) (MG-20568) (1959) Tracks:

Miyoshi - Singing Star of Rodgers And Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song (MGW-12148; 1958) (reissue of the Arthur Godfrey album with some tracks replaced) Tracks:

Film Themes

Miyoshi Umeki recorded two theme songs for films in which she appeared:

  • "Sayonara" for Sayonara (1957)
  • "Cry For Happy" for Cry For Happy (1961)

Cast recordings

Flower Drum Song (Broadway Original Cast; 1958) - Sony Records Flower Drum Song (Film Soundtrack; 1961) - Decca Records

Tracks by Miyoshi Umeki:

  • A Hundred Million Miracles
  • I Am Going To Like It Here
  • Don't Marry Me
  • Wedding Parade/A Hundred Million Miracles


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Seishun Jazz musume (青春ジャズ娘 Seishun jazu musume) Kashu
1956 Around the World Revue Nancy Umeki also known as Universal Musical Short 2655: Around the World Revue
1957 Sayonara Katsumi
1961 Flower Drum Song Mei Li Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1961 Cry for Happy Harue
1962 Girl Named Tamiko, AA Girl Named Tamiko Eiko
1962 Horizontal Lieutenant, TheThe Horizontal Lieutenant Akiko
Year Title Role Notes
1955 Arthur Godfrey and His Friends Herself Regular performer
1957 Perry Como Show, TheThe Perry Como Show Herself 1 episode
1958–61 Dinah Shore Chevy Show, TheThe Dinah Shore Chevy Show Herself Episode #2.32 (1958), Episode #4.16 (1960), Episode #5.17
1958 What's My Line? Herself - Mystery Guest Episode #414 dated 11 May 1958
1958 Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, TheThe Tennessee Ernie Ford Show Herself Episode #2.25
1958 Bing Crosby's White Christmas: All-Star Show Herself It Might as Well Be Spring
1959 Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams, TheThe Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams Herself Episode #2.2
1959 Toast of the Town Singer
1961 Here's Hollywood Herself Episode dated 27 December 1961
1961–62 Donna Reed Show, TheThe Donna Reed Show Kimi 2 episodes: "The Geisha Girl" (1961), "Aloha, Kimi" (1962)
1962 Andy Williams Show, TheThe Andy Williams Show Herself Episode dated 11 October 1962, Episode dated 13 December 1962
1962 Hallmark Hall of Fame Lotus-Blossom "The Teahouse of the August Moon"
1962 Sam Benedict Sumiko Matsui "Tears for a Nobody Doll"
1963 Rawhide Nami "Incident of the Geisha"
1963 Dr. Kildare Hana Shigera "One Clear Bright Thursday Morning"
1964 Burke's Law Mary 'Lotus Bud' Ling "Who Killed the Paper Dragon?"
1964 Virginian, TheThe Virginian Kim Ho "Smile of a Dragon"
1964 Mister Ed Ako Tenaka "Ed in the Peace Corps"
1964 Celebrity Game, TheThe Celebrity Game Herself Episode dated April 19, 1964
1969 Queen and I, TheThe Queen and I Japanese Bride "The Trousseau"
1969–72 Courtship of Eddie's Father, TheThe Courtship of Eddie's Father Mrs. Livingston
1971 This Is Your Life Herself for Bill Bixby
1971 Pet Set, TheThe Pet Set Herself Episode dated June 30, 1971
1971 Merv Griffin Show, TheThe Merv Griffin Show Herself Episode dated March 29, 1971
1972 Salute to Oscar Hammerstein II Herself

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bernstein, Adam. "Actress Miyoshi Umeki, 78, Dies of Cancer". The Washington Post. 5 September 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Oscar winner Miyoshi Umeki dies at 78". USA Today. 5 September 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d Lavietes, Stuart. "Miyoshi Umeki, Oscar-winning actress, dies at 78". International Herald Tribune. 6 September 2007.
  4. ^ Miyoshi Umeki at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Miyoshi Umeki at the Internet Broadway Database
  6. ^ Miyoshi Umeki, first Asian to win an Oscar, dies. AFP. 6 September 2007.
  7. ^ Miyoshi Umeki, 78, Actress Who Won an Oscar in ’57, Dies

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.