PAT MORITA: LONG STORY SHORT
Pat Morita is no longer with us, but fortunately for his multitude of adoring fans throughout the world, he left behind a painfully revealing autobigraphical record of his much-too-brief time here on earth. And what a high-flying time it was!
Pat’s life story might be best described as a journey from one “prison” to the next – beginning with his early childhood, the first decade of which he spent in a charity hospital ward, encased in a rigid body cast from his neck to his knees.
Miraculously able to walk once more, he was then locked behind the barbed wire enclosure of a World War II Japanese-American internment camp for the next three years.
After the war, he found himself imprisoned within the narrow confines of matrimony and parenthood, while desperately pursuing a comedy career in the ghetto-like world of show business. One in which he was constantly told that “Japs ain’t funny.”
But the most formidable prison of them all – one that he’d built himself and could never escape from – as his ever-increasing addiction to drugs and alcohol.
People seeing Pat Morita on television or in films would invariably endow him with those same positive traits of Mr. Miyagi, that all-knowing Zen Master of the Karate Kid films, who could catch a fly in mid-flight with a pair of chop-sticks; a transcendental guru with a twinkle in his eye, who had the solution to any of life’s challenges.
In truth, the real Pat Morita was quite the opposite. For deep inside that sweet, generous, multi-talented performer seethed an army of demons, taunting him with every temptation known to man. Some days, Pat could grapple with, and even defeat these demons. Most days, he couldn’t.
Pat Morita’s never-completed autobiography (in reality, more of a “confessional” than a “memoir”) recounts the truly extraordinary events of both his private life and his professional career – which might help to explain the conflicting forces that forever plagued this complicated beloved “funny man.”