Sunday, July 28, 2013

TOKYO ROUND-UP: A Look Back in Pictures, July 2013

Having lunch with actress Shelley Sweeney, July 21. Getting the chance to hang out with Shelley again was another highlight.

The arrival of summer vacation means I get lots of free time. And what better way to spend that free time than go to Tokyo for another trip?

I enjoyed taking in a morning screening of an old Yumi Shirakawa Toho film, in which she co-stars with Tadao Takashima.

I spent an enjoyable afternoon with actor and musician Mickey Curtis, just before his birthday. Mr. Curtis has many amazing stories to tell!

Meeting Ultraman Gaia himself, Takeshi Yoshioka, was another surprise. My friend Masahiro-san took me to the bar owned by Mr. Yoshioka, who was very happy to chat and pose for pictures.

Talkin' Toho with Yoshimitsu Banno. Seeing Banno-san in Tokyo is nearly a sure bet every time I go. Another gentleman who is happy to share his memories.

I got to meet Keiko Nishi for the second time. Ms. Nishi is an Ultraman Ace cast member who is as sweet and warm as a person can get. It's always a joy to meet her.

Screenwriters Hiroshi Kashiwabara and Wataru Mimura were another highlight. I've gotten to know Mimura-san quite well, but this was only my second meeting with Kashiwabara-san. As expected, much fun was had by all!

ASTRO BOY AND GIGAN: Two Japanese Icons Meet!

Yours truly with Mari Shimizu, the original voice of Astro Boy!

July 20 saw an event take place in Ginza, Tokyo, of mammoth proportions. The one and only Mari Shimizu (a voice actress who is iconic in Japan for breathing life into the anime character Astro Boy) attended a singing event and talk show. The promoter of the event personally invited me to attend, and I was only too happy to oblige!

As a Godzilla fan, what excited me most was the prospect of meeting actress Tomoko Umeda, who played Machiko Shima in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). Ms. Umeda was very warm and friendly, and I got to know her husband and daughter at the event. I believe an interview with Ms. Umeda can't be too far behind!

 An autographed photo from a Godzilla series actress was just one of the many highlights.

A fun time was had by all!

All in all, it was a great event, and I got to do more than my share of networking. Actually, my entire trip to Tokyo was filled with things to do, and I can't wait to return!

FREDDIE THE LEAF: Akira Takarada's Stage Play Returns to Tokyo

On July 25, Freddie the Leaf returned to Tokyo at Ikebukuro's Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. The timing of my trip worked out very well, as it gave me the opportunity to see the opening night of Freddie the Leaf.

I spent two days backstage during the production. At the end of July 23, Mr. Takarada and I went to Jimbocho to catch a theatrical screening of The Last War (1961). Seeing a Toho classic on the big screen next to its star was an experience for the ages!

As expected, Freddie the Leaf packed the house, and the audience was visibly moved by the performance. My congratulations to Mr. Takarada for wowing 'em again!

SCREEN LEGEND KENJI SAHARA: Hanging Out with a Toho Great!

During my most recent visit to Tokyo, I had the distinct honor of reconnecting with Toho star Kenji Sahara. Mr. Sahara, who recently completed filming a Hong Kong movie, remains active in the entertainment industry to this day.

My visit was rather short (given Sahara-san's schedule), but I managed to get a couple of DVDs signed and enjoyed a nice conversation with Mr. Sahara and his son.

Hopefully I'll get to see Mr. Sahara again very soon!

Monday, July 8, 2013

RIP, Victor Lundin

Meeting Victor Lundin in June 2010 at Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood.

Victor Lundin, one of the stars of Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) passed away on July 2, 2013. He was 83.

I met Mr. Lundin at a book signing in June 2010. Ib Melchior's Six Cult Films from the Sixties had just been published, and some of Mr. Melchior's old friends joined him for the festivities. Robinson Crusoe stars Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin turned out, as did Robert Skotak, an Academy Award winner who authored his own book on Mr. Melchior.

I hoped to meet Mr. Lundin again at some point, but it was not to be. He was a charming individual, and I'll always cherish the time we crossed paths.

Rest in peace.