In Godzilla films there’s usually one star, and his name is literally the title: “Godzilla.” But actor Akira Takarada was a rare exception to the rule. Beginning with the original 1954 Toho film, Takarada became a familiar foe to the kaiju, appearing regularly over the first few decades of the franchise with multiple comebacks, all the way up to and including the 2014 Hollywood reboot. This week, Takarada died at the age of 87. No cause of death was given.
The official Toho Twitter announced the news to the world. “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Akira Takarada,” the tweet read. “May his memory continue to inspire the lives of many Godzilla fans.”
Born in 1934, Takarada got a shot at acting after passing an audition looking for new talent in 1953. His first film? Some weird monster movie called Godzilla. In it, he played sailor Hideto Ogata. Ogata tells the Japanese Coast Guard about the first ship Godzilla destroys and witnesses the King of all Kaiju’s seeming destruction at the end. The role also made it into the 1956 American, 1957 French, and 1977 Italian recuts of that film. He was then back as new characters in 1964's Mothra vs. Godzilla, 1965's Invasion of Astro Monster, and 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (all considered part of Toho’s Godzilla monster franchise). After a few decades off, Takarada returned for Godzilla vs. Mothra in 1992 and 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars. IMDB then has him credited as “Japanese Immigration Agent” in the 2014 Gareth Edwards reboot, but according to Variety, those scenes were cut.
If Takarada only made Godzilla movies, it would have been an impressive career, but that was only his best known work. He did dozens of different films and productions, including the Japanese redubs of American hits, according to Deadline. He provided the voice of Doctor Dolittle in 1967's Doctor Dolittle, as well as the Disney films The Great Mouse Detective and Aladdin. In both of those he voiced the villains, Ratigan and Jafar. He then reprised the Jafar voice in a little video game called Kingdom Hearts.
For Godzilla fans, that’s where Takarada will forever be. In their hearts.
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