Japanese actress Yoko Shimada, known for her portrayal of Mariko in the 1980 miniseries Shōgun, a role which earned her a Golden Globe award and an Emmy nomination, has died. According to Japanese media, Shimada died Monday, July 25 from complications of colorectal cancer at a Tokyo hospital. She was 69.
Born in the city of Kumamoto on the Japanese island of Kyushu, Shimada’s first TV role was in the 1970 drama Osanazuma. She went on to appear in several TV productions including Kamen Rider, Karei-naru Ichizoku and Shiroi Kyoto. But it was her role as Mariko in the 1980 TV miniseries Shōgun, based on James Clavelle’s novel, that she is best remembered. Mariko represented the real-life person Hosokawa Gracia, a member of the aristocratic Akechi family. She was one of a small number of Japanese actors in the cast who had English-speaking roles, despite not being fluent in the language. Her performance earned her the 1981 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
She also appeared in several feature films, including 1974’s Castle of Sand, which was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.
Shimada also starred in 1981’s Little Champion (aka My Champion) in the lead role of marathon runner Michiko ‘Miki’ Suwa Gorma. Her other film credits include The Deep Red and To Live As An Actress.