Miyoshi Umeki



Born: May 8, 1929
Otaru, Japan

Died: August 28, 2007
Licking, Missouri

Miyoshi Umeki, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the original Flower Drum Song, and who won a supporting actress Oscar for the film "Sayonara" in 1958, thus becoming the first Asian to win a performance Academy Award, died Aug. 28, 2007, in Licking, MO, Variety reported. She was 78. In addition to starring as Mei-Li in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Flower Drum Song, the diminutive Ms. Umeki, who boasted a pixieish haircut and a wide smile, also appeared in the film version, winning a Golden Globe nomination. Her involvement in the stage show landed her on the cover of Time magazine in 1958.

On television, she became known for playing Mrs. Livingston in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," the Bill Bixby comedy about a single parent. She won another Golden Globe nomination for her work there.

Obituary: Her other film and television credits include "The Horizontal Lieutenant," "A Girl Named Tamiko" and "Cry For Happy," "Mister Ed" and "The Donna Reed Show."

Miyoshi Umeki was born May 8, 1929, in Hokkaido, Japan, where she performed for U.S. troops as a singer during the postwar occupation, singing in Japanese and English, according to Variety. By the time she moved to the U.S. in 1955, she was already famous in Japan as Nancy Umeki. She continued her recording career on Mercury records for some years after arriving in America.

She is survived by her son and two grandchildren.



Playbill Cover - Flower Drum Song Flower Drum Song
Dec. 1, 1958 - May 7, 1960
Mei-Li Performer


Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1959 Actress in a Musical Flower Drum Song Nominee
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