Yoshio Yoda, who portrayed the lovable Fuji Kobiaji in McHale’s Navy, died on January 13 at the age of 88. Yoda appeared on every one of the 138 episodes of the snow, plus two movies.
Yoshio, who was known for playing the lovable prisoner of war who becomes a valued member of the PT-73 crew led by Ernest Borgnine on the 1960s ABC comedy McHale’s Navy, has died.
He appeared on every one of the 138 episodes during the Universal Television show’s 1962-66 run, plus two movies.
His character deserted the Imperial Japanese Navy and became a Seaman 3rd Class , “serving time” cooking and working for Borgnine’s Lt. Commander Quinton McHale.
His character’s presence and identity is meant to be kept a secret from the captain so whenever the boss arrived unannounced, Yoshio’s character was asked to “head for the hills” becoming a popular saying in the film.
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Yoshio was born in Tokyo on March 31 1934 and was studying law at Keio University in Japan when he was encouraged to pursue acting.
He then enrolled at the University of Southern California’s film school in 1958.
MGM producers contacted USC seeking an actor who was bilingual in Japanese and English.
He was then cast as Sgt. Roy Tada alongside Jim Hutton and Paula Prentiss in the World War II comedy, The Horizontal Lieutenant in 1962.
He attended night school while appearing on McHale’s Navy and wound up getting his degree in cinema arts.
After McHale’s Navy ended and he had appeared in every single episode, Yoda appeared in another ABC production.
It aired 138 episodes on ABC from 1962 to 1966 and spawned multiple subsequent films that also starred Yoda.
He got a role on ABC’s Love, American Style in 1969 and served as an assistant vice president of Toyota Hawaii in Honolulu.
He did find some work as an actor and an associate producer after this but ultimately became a businessman.
He eventually retired and moved to Fullerton, California, where he lived until his death.
He is predeceased in death by his son, Edward. Per his request, no services will be held.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Yoda’s death now leaves actor Bobby Wright, who played radio operator Willy Moss, as the only surviving cast member from McHale’s Navy.
Many social media users took to Twitter to share their sadness and leave tributes to the late actor.
DannerFoundati1 said: “Yoshio Yoda – RIP, you did good. We enjoyed your work in films, a consummate professional – always believable. Thank you.”
Mwmtalent added: “This is so sad! Yoshio Yoda dies one day before we celebrate the birthday of Ernest Borgnine.
“In the great beyond, they’re really laughing it up with the cast of McHale’s Navy. Down here…. #RIPYoshio #RIP.”
Renmusb1 commented: “Yoshio Yoda, who portrayed Fuji, the sweet-natured Japanese prisoner of war befriended by the irreverent gang of American sailors at the center of the 1962-66 ABC World War II-set sitcom McHale’s Navy, died Jan. 13 in Fullerton, CA. He was 88.”
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