Fujita Makoto Dead at 76

Fujita Makoto, Nakamura Mondo

Japan Zone was greatly saddened today to hear of the death of actor Fujita Makoto, one of Japan’s best-loved actors. He died yesterday of a ruptured aortic aneurysm at a hospital in Suita City near Osaka. He was 76. Though perhaps best known as screen assassin Nakamura Mondo, Fujita started out in 1952 as a singer and comedian. But acting was in his blood – he was the son of silent movie actor Fujima Rintaro – and he made his TV debut in 1957. His talent for humor made him a household name by the early 1960s. So when Nakamura starred as assassin-for-hire Mondo in the TV Asahi series “Hissatsu Shiokinin” in 1973, it was a total change of image. He went on to play the role for many years on both the small and big screen. In the late 1980s, he started another signature role as a detective in the “Hagure Keiji Junjoha” series, again on Asahi. In his career, he made over 50 movies – most recently in 2008 – and was an accomplished singer with nine albums to his credit.

Fujita suffered health problems in the last couple of years, and was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2008. He recovered from surgery and returned to the Mondo role for a Hisatsu revival later that year. He had more health problems last year but had made enough of a recovery to return to narration work in January, and was expected to make a full return to work in March.