Mifune Gets Posthumous Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Toshiro Mifune's newly unveiled star 6912 Hollywood Blvd.

Toshiro Mifune’s newly unveiled star at 6912 Hollywood Blvd.

Rafu Staff Report

Nearly 20 years after his passing, Japanese screen legend Toshiro Mifune has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

An unveiling ceremony for the 2,594th star was held Monday at 6912 Hollywood Blvd. with about 125 VIPs and fans in attendance.

Flanked by two men wearing samurai armor, Vin Di Bona of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce said, “Today we’re honoring a man who achieved more worldwide fame than any other Japanese actor of this century, a man who left us with a treasure trove of iconic roles.”

Giving a brief biography of Mifune (1920-1997), who had more than 180 movie and TV acting credits starting in 1947, Di Bona said, “Toshiro Mifune starred in over 150 films during the golden age of Japanese cinema. He’s mostly known for his 16 films with director Akira Kurosawa and has become the archetype of the samurai.”

Toshiro Mifune's son, Shiro, and grandson, Rikiya, are flanked by armored samurai.

Toshiro Mifune’s son, Shiro, and grandson, Rikiya, both actors and producers in their own right.

Mifune appeared in such classics as “Rashomon,” “Throne of Blood,” “Yojimbo,” “Sanjuro,” and “Red Beard.” In addition to period pieces, he was known for such contemporary dramas as “Stray Dog,” “The Bad Sleep Well,” and “High and Low.”

Speakers included Academy Award-winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki, whose documentary “Mifune: The Last Samurai” was screened the night before at AFI Fest 2016. His credits include “Days of Waiting,” “The Mushroom Club,” “White Light/Black Rain,” and “The Conscience of Nhem En.”

“I grew up in Los Angeles, in Venice, and as kids in the neighborhood we played cowboys,” he recalled. “We’d divide up into Sharks and Jets, inspired by ‘West Side Story.’ But when we saw ‘Seven Samurai’ by Akira Kurosawa and ‘Samurai Trilogy’ by Hiroshi Inagaki, we all wanted to be samurai and got our parents to take us down to Little Tokyo so we could get these cheap little wood swords …

“In the 1950s and ’60s, there was no one like Mifune … On American television there was Hop Sing on ‘Bonanza’ and very little else. And Asians were either not visible or in demeaning, small roles … I can’t imagine an actor who had that kind of screen presence. People always say they thought he was six and a half feet tall, he was so powerful. He was of course much smaller, but his dynamism [made him seem larger than life].”

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell commented, “I think it’s a testament to the power of film that nearly 20 years after his passing, Toshiro Mifune will be memorialized for all future generations from across the world … Toshiro Mifune had such presence and his power, his internal life, his truth and his authenticity and his integrity translated into every role he ever did … I am pretty convinced that he is one of the most accomplished actors ever to grace film in any genre and of any nationality.”

Actor Martin Landau chats with Consul General Akira Chiba and his wife Yuko.

Actor Martin Landau chats with Consul General Akira Chiba and his wife Yuko.

He also thanked the Walk of Fame for providing fans “an opportunity to come here and enjoy those that they’re here to celebrate and learn and become educated on the history that is Hollywood. There is no other place like it in the world … This is where it all began and this is the place to come to … partake in the great history of cinema.”

O’Farrell presented a proclamation to Mifune’s grandson, Rikiya Mifune, to show that “city leaders understand the considerable contributions of his late grandfather.”

The younger Mifune, who was the consulting producer for the documentary, made his acting debut at age 7 in a Hong Kong film, “Extreme Crisis,” studied film production at the New York Film Academy, and has appeared in several Japanese films.

“Next year it will be 20 years since Mifune passed away, and it is great to know that his accomplishments are still acknowledged and appreciated,” he said. “His old films are being digitally restored as well as remade, and we are very glad that there is lots of excitement about this event …