Toshiro Mifune Biography

(One of Japan's Greatest Actors Known Actors Who is Known for His Collaboration With Akira Kurosawa)

Birthday: April 1, 1920 (Aries)

Born In: Qingdao, China

Toshiro Mifune was a Japanese actor, who had acted in over 150 movies, as well as several TV shows. He gained popularity in Japanese cinema post the Second World War, and earned an international reputation for his portrayal of samurai characters. He collaborated mostly with director Akira Kurosawa. He first earned popularity for his portrayal of a bandit in the film ‘Rashomon’. Some of his other movies include ‘Seven Samurai’, ‘The Hidden Fortress’, ‘Throne of Blood’ and ‘Hell in the Pacific’. His works on television include the miniseries ‘Shogun’, which was based on a novel of the same name. He died in 1997, due to multiple organ failure. Mifune had received several honors during his long career. He had received the Volpi Cup twice in the ‘Best Actor’ category. He was also awarded the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon, as well as the Order of the Sacred Treasure. Several years after his death, in 2016, he also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution in cinema.
Quick Facts

Died At Age: 77


Spouse/Ex-: Sachiko Yoshimine

father: Tokuzo Mifune

mother: Sen Mifune

children: Mika Mifune, Shirô Mifune, Takeshi Mifune

Born Country: China

Actors Japanese Men

Height: 5'9" (175 cm), 5'9" Males

Died on: December 24, 1997

place of death: Tokyo, Japan

Cause of Death: Multiple Organ Failure

Childhood & Early Life
Toshiro Mifune was born in Qingdao, Shandong, China on 1st April 1920. The city at the time was under Japanese occupation. His parents were Methodist missionaries. He was the oldest of three children. Mifune was interested in photography from an early age.
He spent most of his early years in China, as a Japanese citizen. During the Second World War, he was drafted into the Aviation division of the Imperial Japanese Army. He served in its Aerial Photography unit.
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In 1947, Toshiro Mifune found a job as an assistant cameraman at Toho Productions, a Japanese film, theatre production and distribution company. He soon started appearing in films such as ‘These Foolish Times’ (Shin baka jidai (jidadi)2) and ‘Drunken Angel’ (Yoidore tenshi). He got acquainted with director Akira Kurosawa, and appeared in several of his films such as ‘Stray Dog’ (1949) and ‘Scandal’ (1950).
He earned popularity for his role of a bandit, Tajomaru in the 1950 film ‘Rashomon’. Considered as one of the best films ever made, the film is a psychological thriller directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film won several awards such as the Blue Ribbon Award, in the ‘Best Screenplay’ category and the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It won an honorary Oscar as well.
Mifune’s popularity grew as he continued working with Kurosawa. He portrayed samurai in multiple films such as ‘Seven Samurai’ (Shichinin no samurai) in 1954, and ‘The Hidden Fortress’ (Kakushi toride no san akunin) which released in 1958. He was also seen in Kurosawa’s adaptations of well-known Western literary classics, which included ‘Hakuchi’ (1951) based on the novel ‘The Idiot’, written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, ‘Kumonosu-jo’ (1957) (English title: ‘Throne of Blood’) ‘based on Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’, and ‘Donzoko’, (1957), which was based on the play by Maxim Gorky named ‘The Lower Depths’.
He continued to appear in several other movies, such as ‘The Youth and his Amulet’ (1961), ‘Sanjuro’ (1962), ‘High and Low’ (1963), and ‘Whirlwind’ (1964). Mifune’s last work with director Kurosawa was the 1965 film ‘Red Beard’ (Akahige). The film was a huge success commercially, though there was a dispute between Mifune and Kurosawa, due to which they didn’t work again in the future.
Over the next three decades, he continued to act in several other films, some of them include ‘Red Sun’ (1971), ‘Paper Tiger’ (1975), ‘Proof of the Man’ (1977), ‘The Challenge’ (1982), ‘Princess from the Moon’ (1987), and ‘Shadow of the Wolf’ (1992). Mifune also appeared in several TV shows such as ‘Dai Chushingura’ (1971), ‘Ronin of the Wilderness’ (1972), ‘Edo Dragnet’ (1977) and ‘Shogun’ (1980).
Major Works
’Rashomon’ a 1950 psychological thriller crime film, directed by Akira Kurosawa, is one of Toshiro Mifune’s most popular and successful works. The film was based on a short story of the same name by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. The film received lots of appreciation, and has appeared in many ‘Top 10’ lists. It also won several awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1951, and also an Academy Honorary Award in 1952. It is considered one of the best films ever made.
Mifune played the lead role in ‘The Samurai Trilogy’, a film trilogy, which was directed by Hiroshi Inagaki. The three films included ‘Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto’ (1954), ‘Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple’ (1955), and ‘Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island’. The first film also won the Oscar in the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.
The American TV miniseries ‘Shogun’, where Mifune played a main role, is another one of his best known works. The series was based on a novel of the same name, which released in 1975. It was based loosely on the adventures of an English navigator William Adams. The series was a critical success, and also won multiple awards, including three Emmys and three Golden Globes. The series earned Mifune a lot of fame in the West.
Family & Personal Life
Toshiro Mifune fell in love with Sachiko Yoshimine, who was one of his fellow performers. She came from a respected family in Tokyo. They got married in February 1950. Though she was a Buddhist, as Mifune was a Christian, they were married in a Church, as per the Christian tradition.
The couple had two children named Shiro and Takeshi. Mifune also had a mistress (Mika Kitagawa with whom he had a daughter named Mika, who became an actress.
Toshiro Mifune passed away on 24th December, 1997, in Mitaka, Tokyo, due to multiple organ failure.

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