Monday, March 26, 2012

テレビ A Look Back at Television Past

Japanese actors in Hollywood have come a long way to overcome cultural stereotypes over the years. And in some ways, they still have their work cut out for them. But to truly appreciate where they are today one must look back to the post war days where Hollywood was either clueless or simply assumed their audience was culturally ignorant enough not to care. It was this last Sunday during a late spring rainstorm that by chance we had been channel surfing when we came across a peculiar episode on TV Land of "The Flying Nun" that we noticed this likely long forgotten episode featuring American Born actress Miko Mayama. What struck us right away was this Japanese girl playing a Korean named "Kim Ching" who was dressed in almost every scene in brightly colored silk Chinese Cheong san dresses that today people would not associate with Koreans. None the less, this momentary television curiosity had us glued like some train wreck we couldn't turn our eyes away from. Just how far would the writers make this American born actress Miko Mayama play out every racial & cultural stereotype in the span of twenty minutes. Long story short, it was her cheery expression in her eyes particularly with every bow she made in her exaggerated accent that we wondered what indignity she was putting up with in order to work in this town. In nearly half her roles they could not even spell her name right including this Flying Nun episode. We at American Mishima felt bad enough for this girl to wonder what became of her and if she got to do anything else that would make today's Asian Acting Community cringe. Well this girl if she is still out there would be around 72 years of age and possibly still living in Los Angeles. Miko Mayama made her career in Hollywood during the 1960's and 70's. She had appeared in many television shows playing Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, or anywhere an Asian girl could get a break back then. She was quite a beauty in her day.

 Well as it turned out she wasn't completely forgotten. We managed to find her on of all things a Star Trek fan page that featured her appearance as as the dignified Yeoman Tamura in 1967's "A Taste of Armageddon." She did numerous television shows and even an Elvis movie. Some would likely remember her from a famous Madame Butterfly commercial that aired during the late 60's where Miko is seen made up as a Geisha much as her appearance on F-Troop. It is unknown what she did after her 1979 appearance in MASH. She is not listed as deceased but she did get a curious mention for being a girlfriend of Burt Reynolds during the 70's.

While Miko Mayama may not have won any big awards for her acting, she should be credited for her groundbreaking work that opened the door for future Japanese-American & other Asian actors that followed. By chance Miko Mayama is still out there and reads this post we'd like to say on behalf of American Mishima, we salute you!  どもありがとうございます!

To find out more please visit Miko Mayama's IMDB Filmography Page.

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