Actress Wakako Tanabe. Photo by Brett Homenick.
Tonight, I joined a few friends for a great dinner with former Toho actress Wakako Tanabe. Tanabe-san is a name about as unknown to Western tokusatsu fans as it gets, but her roles are certainly much more recognizable. Tanabe-san would be best remembered by kaiju fans in the U.S. as the unfortunate victim who gets eaten by Gaira at the airport in War of the Gargantuas (1966).
Not only that, she played Torahata's companion while he speaks to Kumayama on the phone in Godzilla vs. The Thing (a.k.a. Mothra vs. Godzilla, 1964), as well as a Kilaak in Destroy All Monsters (1968). Her other tokusatsu credits include: The Lost World of Sinbad (1963), Ironfinger (1965), episode 19 of Ultra Q (1966), episode 45 of Ultra Seven (1967-68), episode 21 of Fight! Mighty Jack (1968), episode 8 of Operation: Mystery! (1968-69), Konto 55: Space Adventure (1969), and episode 12 of Horror Theater Unbalance (1973).
More importantly, however, she's also a fan of Billy Joel, particularly the songs "Piano Man" and "Just the Way You Are."
I had a great time speaking with Tanabe-san, as it was the first time I'd ever met her. I definitely hope to get another chance in the near future!