Pioneering Actor Hisaya Morishige Passes Away at 96
posted on by Crystalyn Hodgkins
Hisaya Morishige, the acclaimed postwar actor whose voice dubbing work inspired Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki, passed away on November 10 of natural causes. He was 96.
Morishige voiced all the male voices in Toei Animation's 1958 anime Hakujaden (The White Snake Enchantress), the first full-length color animation film in Japan. He later voiced the boar god Okkotonushi in Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's Princess Mononoke film (1997). In an interview Morishige conducted with Miyazaki for Princess Mononoke, Miyazaki said it was Hakujaden that directly inspired him to become an animator. Morishige also voiced Professor Torino in the Doraemon: Nobita's Winged Heroes movie.
Morishige was born in 1913 to a wealthy family in Osaka. He attended Waseda University and performed theater there. After graduation and during World War II, Morishige landed a job as an NHK announcer. He became a famous actor in the 1950s — first as a comedian and then playing more serious roles. He has appeared in many films, television dramas, variety shows and radio programs, and is considered one of Japan's most famous postwar performers. He was also a well-known stage actor, often reprising his roles hundreds of times, the most famous of which was Tevye in the Japanese version of Fiddler on the Roof.
In addition to his acting career, Morishige led the Japan Actors Union. He was awarded the Person of Cultural Merit honor in 1984 and the first Order of Culture in the field of popular arts in 1991.
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