Talento Yamaguchi Mie died suddenly yesterday of heart failure at the age of 51, according to her management agency. They said Yamaguchi had been having dizzy spells since early February and had been seeking medical treatment. She gave a magazine interview on February 28 but her condition had worsened in recent days. A relative found her collapsed at her home in Yokohama yesterday afternoon.
A graduate of Saint Maur International School in Yokohama, the trilingual Yamaguchi was a rarity when she made her debut as the presenter of “CNN Headline” on the TV Asahi network in 1987. She became a popular TV personality and is remembered for a TV commercial for the food brand Fujicco and the catch phrase “Shibazuke Tabetai.” In 1996 she retired from show business to become an entrepreneur, opening a small import shop in Yokohama Chinatown. She closed the store last year. In 2008 she published a book on her experiences caring for her senile father, a topic on which she often gave talks.
Speed member Uehara Takako (29, photo left) and a member of the hip hop unit ET-King are getting hitched, according to the Sankei Sports newspaper. The pair are expected to make an announcement about their marriage plans today. A foursome from Okinawa, Speed became one of the biggest acts in J-pop in the late 1990s, selling some 20 million albums before splitting up in 2000. They have pursued solo careers but appeared together several times over the years before formally reuniting at the end of 2008. Most recently, they played a Tohoku benefit concert in June of last year. Though she had previously appeared on the big screen with Speed, Uehara got her first movie leading role in last year’s “La Vallee de l’Amour.” ET-King made their major label debut with “Donuts/Natsu Omori” in 2006. They are scheduled to release a new single, “Mother,” on April 11.
Meanwhile, model and race queen Nanao (23, photo center) hinted yesterday that she and musician Nishikawa Takanori (41) might be tying the knot before the end of the year. Appearing at a PR event to promote Australian tourism, she was asked about their relationship and said, “We are talking about possibly going in that direction in the future.” Asked if that meant possible marriage within the year, she said, “Maybe.” One factor may be that several members of her Platinum Production management agency – Wakatsuki Chinatsu (27), Kinoshita Yukina (24) and Ogura Yuko (28) – are expecting babies this year.
Not so good news this week for actress Tanaka Ritsuko (40, photo right) who posted on her blog yesterday that she and her photographer husband Sugimoto Manabu (45) are divorced. The couple are said to have filed for divorce at the beginning of February, ending a 15-year marriage that started in 1997 with Tanaka aleady four months pregnant. In a magazine article a year ago, Tanaka spoke about how she and her husband had very different interests – she is into scuba diving, triathlons and other outdoor activities, while he is a stay at home type.