Japanese Actor Ken Takakura Dies at 83

Ken Takakura 2005 - P 2013
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Ken Takakura 2005 - P 2013

The star of hundreds of films was best known to Western audiences for his role in 'Black Rain'

Japanese tough-guy actor Ken Takakura, who appeared in more than 200 films during a six decade-spanning career, including Ridley Scott's Black Rain, died on Nov. 10 in Tokyo at the age of 83, his family announced Tuesday.

Born as Goichi Oda on the Southern Japanese island of Kyushu, Takakura died of lymphoma at a Tokyo hospital. A private funeral has already taken place.

Takakura made his name in Japan playing stoic, rugged heroes, many of them yakuza gangsters, debuting in 1956 for studio Toei, where he would make many of his iconic films until the mid-1970s.

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He stepped on to the international stage in 1970 alongside Henry Fonda and Michael Caine in war film Too Late the Hero playing a Japanese general. Five years later, he appeared in Sydney Pollack's The Yakuza, starring Robert Mitchum, before playing a Japanese policeman helping Michael Douglas' U.S. cop find a yakuza gangster in Black Rain.

Takakura was also a favorite of older Chinese audiences, with his 1976 film Kimi yo Fundo no Kawa o Watare making him a star in the country. Nearly two decades later he also appeared in the award-winning Chinese film Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, by Zhang Yimou.    

Takakura was honored with the Order of Culture, the highest award of its kind, from the Japanese emperor in a ceremony in Nov. 2013. He won the best actor honor at the Japanese academy awards on four occasions.

His last film was 2012's Dearest, though he was reported to be preparing to work on another project when he was hospitalized.

Twitter: @GavinJBlair