Brown - Dark
Nanaura, Chiba, Japan
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
starred in over 80 movies and achieved stardom on three continents. He was also a producer, author, martial artist and an ordained Zen monk
Sessue Hayakawa (早川 雪洲 Hayakawa Sesshū, June 10, 1889 – November 23, 1973) was a Japanese Issei actor who starred in American, Japanese, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was active at the outset of the American film industry. He was the first Asian actor to find stardom in the United States and Europe. He is the first Asian American as well as the first Japanese American movie star and the first Asian American leading man. His "broodingly handsome" good looks and typecasting as a sinister villain with sexual dominance made him a heartthrob among American women, and the first male sex symbol of Hollywood, several years in advance of Rudolph Valentino.
Actor/Actress, Producer, Director
Has Detailed Data (New)
Actor, director, producer, writer,
Profile Bio Text
Born June 10, 1889 in Nanaura, Chiba, Japan
Died November 23, 1973 in Tokyo, Japan (cerebral thrombosis)
Birth Name Kintarô Hayakawa
Height 5' 7½" (1,71 m)
Mini Bio (1)
Sessue Hayakawa was born in Chiba, Japan. His father was the provincial governor and his mother a member of an aristocratic family of the "samurai" class. The young Hayakawa wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and become a career officer in the Japanese navy, but he was turned down due to problems with his hearing. The disappointed Hayakawa decided to make his career on the stage. He joined a Japanese theatrical company that eventually toured the United States in 1913. Pioneering film producer Thomas H. Ince spotted him and offered him a movie contract. Roles in The Wrath of the Gods (1914) and The Typhoon (1914) turned Hayakawa into an overnight success. The first Asian-American star of the American screen was born.
He married actress Tsuru Aoki on May 1, 1914. The next year his appearance in Cecil B. DeMille's sexploitation picture La marca del fuego (1915) made Hayakawa a silent-screen superstar. He played an ivory merchant who has an affair with the Caucasian Fannie Ward, and audiences were "scandalized" when he branded her as a symbol of her submission to their passion. The movie was a blockbuster for Famous Players-Lasky (later Paramount), turning Hayakawa into a romantic idol for millions of American women, regardless of their race. However, there were objections and outrage from racists of all stripes, especially those who were opposed to miscegenation (sexual contact between those of different races). Also outraged was the Japanese-American community, which was dismayed by DeMille's unsympathetic portrayal of a member of their race. The Japanese-American community protested the film and attempted to have it banned when it was re-released in 1918.
The popularity of Hayakawa rivaled that of Caucasian male movie stars in the decade of the 1910s, and he became one of the highest-paid actors in Hollywood. He made his career in melodramas, playing romantic heroes and charismatic heavies. He co-starred with the biggest female stars in Hollywood, all of whom were, of course, Caucasian. His pictures often co-starred Jack Holt as his Caucasian rival for the love of the white heroine (Holt would later become a top action star in the 1920s),
Hayakawa left Famous Players-Lasky to go independent, setting up his own production company, Haworth Pictures Corp. Through the end of the decade Haworth produced Asian-themed films starring Hayakawa and wife Tsuru Aoki that proved very popular. These movies elucidated the immigrant's desire to "cross over" or assimilate into society at large and pursue the "American Dream" in a society free of racial intolerance. Sadly, most of these films are now lost.
With the dawn of a new decade came a rise in anti-Asian sentiment, particularly over the issue of immigration due to the post-World War I economic slump. Hayakawa's films began to perform poorly at the box office, bringing his first American movie career to an end in 1922. He moved to Japan but was unable to get a career going. Relocating to France, he starred in La batalla (1923), a popular melodrama spiced with martial arts. He made Sen Yan's Devotion (1924) and The Great Prince Shan (1924) in the UK.
In 1931 Hayakawa returned to Hollywood to make his talking-picture debut in support of Anna May Wong in La hija del dragón (1931). Sound revealed that he had a heavy accent, and his acting got poor reviews. He returned to Japan before once again going to France, where he made the geisha melodrama Yoshiwara (1937) for director Max Ophüls. He also appeared in a remake of "The Cheat" called La marca de fuego (1937), playing the same role that over 20 year earlier had made him one of the biggest stars in the world.
After the Second World War he took a third stab at Hollywood. In 1949 he relaunched g himself as a character actor with Secuestro (1949) in support of Humphrey Bogart, and Regresaron tres (1950) with Claudette Colbert. Hayakawa reached the apex of this, his third career, with his role as the martinet POW camp commandant in El puente sobre el río Kwai (1957), which brought him an Academy Award nomination for Best Suporting Actor. His performance as Col. Saito was essential to the success of David Lean's film, built as it was around the battle of wills between Hayakawa's commandant and Alec Guinness' Col. Nicholson, head of the Allied POWs. The film won the Best Picture Academy Award, while Lean and Guiness also were rewarded with Oscars.
Hayakawa continued to act in movies regularly until his retirement in 1966. He returned to Japan, becoming a Zen Buddhist priest while remaining involved in his craft by giving private acting lessons.
Ninety years after achieving stardom, he remains one of the few Asians to assume superstar status in American motion pictures.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood (qv's and corrections by A. Nonymous)
Couple Profile Source
Wiki Bio Text
==SESSUE HAYAKAWA-KINTARO HAYAKAWA-JAPANESE ACTOR-1889-1973==
Nisha Rathode EDITOR
Spouse Tsuru Aoki (m. 1914–1961)
Name Sessue Hayakawa
Years active 1914–1966
Education University of Chicago
Sessue Hayakawa Sessue Hayakawa Quotes QuotesGram
Full Name Kintaro Hayakawa 早川金太郎
Born June 10, 1889 (1889-06-10) Minamiboso, Chiba, Japan
Died November 23, 1973, Tokyo, Japan
Children Yoshiko Hayakawa, Fujiko Hayakawa, Yukio Hayakawa
Movies The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Cheat, The Dragon Painter, Swiss Family Robinson, The Geisha Boy
Similar People Tsuru Aoki, David Lean, Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson, Cecil B DeMille
Sessue hayakawa documentary proposal
Sessue Hayakawa (早川 雪洲, Hayakawa Sesshū, June 10, 1889 – November 23, 1973) was a Japanese actor who starred in Japanese, American, French, German, and British films. Hayakawa was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood during the silent era of the 1910s and 1920s. He was the first actor of Asian descent to find stardom as a leading man in the United States and Europe. His "broodingly handsome" good looks and typecasting as a sexually dominant villain made him a heartthrob among American women during a time of racial discrimination, and he became one of the first male sex symbols of Hollywood.
Sessue Hayakawa uploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons885Sessue
During those years, Hayakawa was as well-known and popular as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks, although today his name is largely unknown to the public.
Sessue Hayakawa wwwcinemagumbocom JOURNAL
His popularity, sex appeal, and extravagant lifestyle (e.g., his wild parties and his gold-plated Pierce-Arrow) unsettled many segments of American society which were already filled with feelings of the "yellow peril". With the rising tensions between Japan and the United States, Japanese actors were no longer welcome in Hollywood. Following the end of the war, Asian characters were depicted in a desexualized fashion in modern Hollywood and in the wider society, as exemplified by the controversial character of I. Y. Yunioshi in Breakfast At Tiffany's. Hayakawa refused to adopt the negative stereotypes. He abandoned Hollywood for European cinema and there he was treated equally. Hayakawa's friendships with American actors led him to return to Hollywood. He was one of the highest paid stars of his time, earning $5,000 per week in 1915, and $2 million per year through his own production company during the 1920s. He starred in over eighty movies, and two of his films stand in the United States National Film Registry. Of his English-language films, Hayakawa is probably best known for his role as Colonel Saito in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, for which he received a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1957. He played a similar role as General Matsui in Hell to Eternity, opposite Jeffrey Hunter as USMC hero Guy Gabaldon. He also appeared in the 1950 film Three Came Home and as the pirate leader in Disney's Swiss Family Robinson in 1960.
Sessue Hayakawa Sessue Hayakawa known as the Japanese Rudolph Valentino Vintage
In addition to his film acting career, Hayakawa was a theatre actor, film and theatre producer, film director, screenwriter, novelist, martial artist, member of the French Resistance, and a Zen master.
Sessue Hayakawa Sessue Hayakawa 1918 Faces Pinterest Sessue hayakawa
Joe franklin interviews sessue hayakawa 1957
Early life and career
Sessue Hayakawa TIL the first male sex symbol in Hollywood was a Japanese actor
Hayakawa was born Kintarō Hayakawa (早川 金太郎, Hayakawa Kintarō) in the village of Nanaura, now part of Chikura Town in the city of Minamibosō in Chiba Prefecture, Japan on June 10, 1889, the second eldest son of the provincial governor. From an early age, Hayakawa's family intended him to become an officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy. However, while a student at the Naval Academy in Etajima, he swam to the bottom of a lagoon (he grew up in a shellfish diving community) on a dare and ruptured his eardrum. The injury caused him to fail the Navy physical. His father felt shame and embarrassment by his son's failure and this drove a wedge between them. The strained relationship drove the young Hayakawa to attempt seppuku (ritual suicide). One evening, Hayakawa entered a shed on his parents' property and prepared the venue. He put his dog outside and attempted to uphold his family's samurai tradition by stabbing himself more than 30 times in the abdomen. The barking dog brought Hayakawa's parents to the scene and his father used an axe to break down the door, saving his life. After he recovered from the suicide attempt, Hayakawa began to study political economics at the University of Chicago to fulfill his family's new wish that he become a banker. He lived in the United States from 1911 until 1923, returned to Japan to attend his father's funeral, and came back in 1925.
Sessue Hayakawa Sessue Hayakawa Hollywood Star Walk Los Angeles Times
After his second year of studies at the University of Chicago, Hayakawa decided to quit school and return to Japan. He traveled to Los Angeles and awaited a transpacific steamship. During his stay, he discovered the Japanese Theatre in Little Tokyo and became fascinated with acting and performing plays. It was around this time he first assumed the name Sessue Hayakawa. One of the productions in which Hayakawa performed was called The Typhoon. Film producer Thomas Ince saw the production and offered to turn it into a silent movie with the original cast. Anxious to return to his studies at the University of Chicago, Hayakawa decided to try to dissuade Ince by requesting the astronomic fee of $500 a week, but Ince agreed to his request.
The Typhoon, filmed in 1914, became an instant hit and was followed by two additional pictures produced by Ince, The Wrath of the Gods co-starring Hayakawa's new wife, fellow Issei and actress Tsuru Aoki, and The Sacrifice. With Hayakawa's rising stardom, Jesse L. Lasky soon offered Hayakawa a contract, which he accepted, making him part of Famous Players-Lasky (now Paramount Pictures).
Hayakawa's second film for Famous Players-Lasky was The Cheat, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. The Cheat co-starring Fannie Ward, was a huge success, making Hayakawa a romantic idol to the female movie-going public. With his popularity, Hayakawa's salary reached to over $5,000 a week in 1915. In 1917, he built his residence, a castle-styled mansion, at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Argyle Street in Hollywood, which was a local landmark until it was demolished in 1956. Following The Cheat, Hayakawa became a top leading man for romantic dramas in the 1910s and early 1920s and then, switched to Westerns and Action films. After years of extensive typecasting at Famous Players, Hayakawa decided to form his own production company. He borrowed $1 million from William Joseph Connery, a former classmate at the University of Chicago, son of James Patrick Connery, who in turn was a former business partner of Will H. Hays of the Teapot Dome Scandal, and formed Haworth Pictures Corporation in 1918. Over the next three years, he produced 23 films and netted $2 million a year. Hayakawa controlled content, produced, starred in, directed, and contributed to the design, writing, and editing of the films which were highly influential in the American public's perception of Asians. During the height of his popularity, critics hailed Hayakawa's Zen-influenced acting style. Hayakawa sought to bring muga, or the "absence of doing," to his performances, in direct contrast to the then-popular studied poses and broad gestures. He was one of the first stars to do so, Mary Pickford being another.
In 1918, Hayakawa personally chose the American serial actress Marin Sais to appear opposite him in a series of films, the first being the 1918 racial drama The City of Dim Faces followed by His Birthright, which also starred his wife. Hayakawa's collaboration with Sais ended with the 1919 film Bonds of Honor. He also appeared opposite Jane Novak in The Temple of Dusk, a Mutual Film Corporation production. In 1919, Hayakawa made The Dragon Painter, appearing opposite his wife, and became one of the highest paid stars of the era, earning $2 million per year through his production company throughout the 1920s. His fame rivaled that of Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and William S. Hart, and in many ways, he was a precursor to Rudolph Valentino. Hayakawa drove a gold plated Pierce-Arrow and entertained lavishly in his "Castle" which was known as the scene of some of Hollywood's wildest parties. Shortly before Prohibition took effect in 1920, he bought a large supply of liquor leading him to claim that he owed his social success to his liquor supply. During this period, he lost $1 million during a single evening gambling in Monte Carlo. He shrugged off the loss while another Japanese gambler who lost a similar sum of money took his own life. A bad business deal forced Hayakawa to leave Hollywood in 1921. The next 15 years saw him perform in New York, France, England and Japan. In 1924, he made The Great Prince Shan and The Story of Su in London. In 1925, he wrote a novel, The Bandit Prince, and adapted it into a short play. In 1930, he performed in Samurai, a one-act play written especially for him, for Great Britain's King George V and Queen Mary, and also became widely known in France. Later that year, Hayakawa returned to Japan and produced a Japanese-language stage version of The Three Musketeers.
During the 1930s, his career began to suffer from the rise of talkies, as well as a growing anti-Japanese sentiment. Hayakawa's sound film debut came in 1931 in Daughter of the Dragon, starring opposite fellow Asian performer Anna May Wong. Sessue Hayakawa played a Samurai in the German-Japanese co-production The Daughter of the Samurai in 1937, which was directed by Arnold Fanck. In 1937, Hayakawa went to France to perform in Yoshiwara and later found himself trapped and separated from his family, when the German occupation of France began in 1940. Hayakawa made few movies during these years, but supported himself by selling watercolors. He joined the French Resistance and helped Allied flyers during the war. In 1949, Humphrey Bogart's production company located Hayakawa and offered him a role in Tokyo Joe. Before issuing a work permit, the American Consulate investigated Hayakawa's activities during the war and found that he had in no way contributed to the German war effort. Hayakawa followed Tokyo Joe with Three Came Home, in which he played real-life POW camp commander Lieutenant-Colonel Suga, before returning to France.
After World War II, his on-screen roles can best be described as the honorable villain, a figure exemplified by his portrayal of Colonel Saito in The Bridge on the River Kwai. The film won the 1957 Academy Award for Best Picture and Hayakawa received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor, losing to Red Buttons. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe for the role that he called the highlight of his career. After that film, Hayakawa largely retired from acting. Throughout the rest of his life he performed on a handful of television shows and a few movies with his final film appearance in The Daydreamer in 1966. Hayakawa established his own production company in 1918 and operated it until 1921. During this period, he produced, directed, contributed to the design, writing, of editing his films and also wrote several plays, painted watercolors, performed martial arts, and managed his investments. In 1961, he became a Zen master, a private acting coach, authored his autobiography, Zen Showed Me the Way, and appeared on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood.
Hayakawa was in a unique position due to his ethnicity and fame in the English-speaking world. Due to anti-miscegenation laws that existed at the time, Hayakawa would be unable to become a U.S. citizen or marry someone of another race. In 1930, the Production Code came into effect which forbade portrayals of miscegenation in film. This meant that unless Hayakawa's co-star was an Asian actress, he would not be able to portray a romance with her. Throughout his career, the United States dealt with yellow peril which affected Americans' perceptions of Asians. This left Hayakawa constantly typecast as a villain or forbidden lover and unable to play parts that would be given to white actors such as Douglas Fairbanks. Hayakawa can be seen as a precursor to Rudolph Valentino. Both were foreign born, typecast as exotic or forbidden lovers, wildly popular during their time and Hayakawa even helped Rudolph Valentino's rise to stardom inadvertently. His contract with Famous Players expired in May 1918, but the studio still asked him to star in The Sheik. Hayakawa refused the picture in favor of starting his own company, most likely not happy with another "forbidden villain lover" role. With influence from June Mathis, the role went to the barely known Valentino and turned him into a screen icon overnight.
In more than 20 films for Famous Players, Hayakawa was typecast as either the villain or the exotic lover who in the end would turn his lover over to the proper man of her race. This typecasting was the reason Hayakawa established his own production company in 1918, near the height of his US fame. At the time, he stated he wanted to be shown "as he really is and not as fiction paints him." As for his prior roles, he said, "They are false and give people a wrong idea of us [Asians]." Hayakawa desperately sought to show a more balanced and fair portrait of Asians. In 1949, he lamented, "My one ambition is to play a hero." In his autobiography he observed, "All my life has been a journey. But my journey differs from the journeys of most men."
Hayakawa's early films were not popular in Japan most likely due to the fact that Hollywood played up his "Japaneseness," by which is meant his roles contributed to the image of the sadistic and cruel Japanese man. Many Japanese viewers found this portrayal — which made him popular in the U.S. — insulting. Nationalistic groups in particular were censorious. Some Japanese felt his American success represented turning his back on his nation because of the unflattering images his roles presented. His later films were also not popular, because he was seen as "too Americanized" during a time of "Nationalism". As Japan's extension of Imperial rule over China increased in the 1930s, however, many Chinese nationalist groups hailed the portrayals as true-to-life.
On May 1, 1914, Hayakawa married fellow Japanese actress Tsuru Aoki, who co-starred in several of his movies. Hayakawa's first child, a son, was born in New York in 1929, to a white actress named Ruth Noble. The boy was known as Alexander Hayes, but the name was changed to Yukio after Sessue and his wife Tsuru adopted the child and took him to be raised and educated in Japan. Later, Hayakawa had two daughters: Yoshiko, an actress, and Fujiko, a dancer. Aoki died in 1961, after which Hayakawa moved back to Japan and became a Zen master. Hayakawa was known for his discipline and martial arts skills. While a student at the University of Chicago, he played quarterback for the football team and was once penalized for using jujitsu to bring down an opponent.
While filming The Jaguar's Claws, in the Mojave Desert, Hayakawa played a Mexican bandit, with 500 cowboys as extras. On the first night of filming, the extras drank all night and well into the next day. No work was being done, so Hayakawa challenged the group to a fight. Two men stepped forward. Hayakawa said of the incident, "The first one struck out at me. I seized his arm and sent him flying on his face along the rough ground. The second attempted to grapple and I was forced to flip him over my head and let him fall on his neck. The fall knocked him unconscious." Hayakawa then disarmed yet another cowboy. The extras returned to work, amused by the way the small man manhandled the big bruising cowboys.
Death and legacy
Sessue Hayakawa retired from film in 1966. He died in Tokyo on November 23, 1973, from a cerebral thrombosis, complicated by pneumonia. He was buried in the Chokeiji Temple Cemetery in Toyama, Japan.
Many of his films are lost. However, most of his later works, including The Bridge on the River Kwai, the Jerry Lewis comedy The Geisha Boy (in which he lampoons his role in The Bridge on the River Kwai), The Swiss Family Robinson (in which he plays the pirate chief Kuala), Tokyo Joe and Three Came Home, are available on DVD. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Sessue Hayakawa was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1645 Vine Street, in Hollywood, California. A musical based on his life, Sessue, played in Tokyo in 1989. In September 2007, the Museum of Modern Art held a retrospective on Hayakawa's work entitled: Sessue Hayakawa: East and West, When the Twain Met. Japanese film director Nagisa Oshima had planned to create a biopic entitled Hollywood Zen based on Hayakawa's life. The script had been allegedly completed and set to film in Los Angeles, but due to constant delays and the eventual death of Oshima himself in 2013, the project went unrealized.
The novelist Nicholas Monsarrat, author of The Cruel Sea, records in his autobiography Life is a Four-letter Word (Volume One, Breaking In, Pan Books 1969, page 59) that in the early 1920s the British comic paper Film Fun ran "a wonderful serial called 'The League of the Yellow Hand', by 'the famous Japanese film star', Sessue Hayakawa".
2006 — The Slanted Screen: Asian Men in Film and Television. Directed by Jeff Adachi