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Hiroshi Koizumi, who appeared in Toho Studio’s early Godzilla films, died on May 31 from pneumonia. He was 88.
In 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again, Koizumi appeared as a pilot who discovers Godzilla battling another monster on a remote island. The film was put into production by Toho to cash in on the box office success of the first Godzilla movie the year before.
Born into an old-money family in 1926, Koizumi graduated from Tokyo’s Keio University, Japan’s oldest, and joined public broadcaster NHK as an announcer. Shortly after, he signed for Toho: in those days actors were usually contracted to work for a single studio.
Making his film debut in 1951, he went on to appear in a string of monster films, including three in 1964 alone: Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Dogara, the Space Monster.
Koizumi also acted in numerous non-monster productions, including the 47 Samurai in 1962, alongside the legendary Toshiro Mifune. The film was one of the many versions of the true story that was the basis of the Keanu Reeves flop, 47 Ronin, in 2013.
During the 1970s, Koizumi became the presenter of Fuji TV’s popular Quiz Grand Prix, though that didn’t stop him returning to the big screen for 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. He appeared twice more with Toho’s iconic monster, in The Return of Godzilla in 1984 and Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. in 2003.
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