Frankie Sakai

Original Name フランキー堺
Birth Name Masatoshi Sakai (堺 正俊)
Born February 13, 1929
Kagoshima, Japan
Died June 10, 1996 (67)
Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Comedian, actor, and jazz musician. Sakai dabbled in theater and dance while in law school, premiering in a 1946 production of Swan Lake. He performed in a jazz band, “The Six Lemons,” for American forces during the occupation, at which time he adopted the stage name “Frankie.” In 1954 he headlined a group called “Frankie Sakai and the City Slickers,” which specialized in humorous songs a la American contemporary Spike Jones.

From there Sakai branched out into film and television, appearing in a variety of genres, from dramas to comedies to sci-fi. He’s most popular to genre fans for his lead roles in Mothra and The Last War (both 1961).

Sakai was awarded the Medal of Honor, Purple Ribbon in 1994 for his contribution to the arts. He died from liver failure in 1996, at the relatively young age of 67.