Hisaya Morishige was born on May 4, 1913 in Osaka, Honshu, Japan. He graduated from Kitano Middle School, and went on to attend Waseda University. While at the university, he was a performer in the theater. Morishige graduated from college during World War II. After graduation, he landed a job as an announcer for the NHK. He went on to become a famous actor during the 1950’s. Morishige started out as a comedian, but moved into more serious roles.
Over the years, Morishige appeared in many films, television dramas, variety shows, and radio programs. His earliest acting appearance is in the 1947 Japanese film, Joyu. His comedy appearances included Company President and Station Front. In 1975, he was the first guest on the now long-running television talk show Tetsuko’s Room. One of his famous film roles is in the 1956 Japanese live-action film, Romantic Daughters. His most recent acting credit is in the 2004 Japanese film, Shinibana. In Japan, Morishige is considered to be one of Japan’s most famous postwar performers.
Morishige began his career in anime voice acting by providing all the male voices for the 1958 film, Hakujaden. Hakujaden has the distinction of not only being Japan’s first full-length color animated film, but it is also the film that inspired Hayao Miyazaki to become an animator. Morishige would later go on to provide the voices for Okkotonushi (the Boar God) in Princess Mononoke in 1997 and Professor Kami Torino in Doraemon: Nobita’s Winged Heroes in 2001. He also provided the voices in the Japanese dub versions of two English animated films: When the Wind Blows in 1987 and Hercules in 1997.
Morishige was also a stage actor. His best known theater role is that of Tevye in the Japanese version of Fiddler on the Roof. He led the Japanese Actors Union, and also received two Japanese awards: the Person of Cultural Merit in 1984 and the first Order of Culture in the field of popular art from the Emperor in Japan in 1991. Morishige has a writing credit on the soundtrack for 1987’s Tora-san Goes North, as well as providing the title calligraphy for the 1996 television series, Hideyoshi.
In 1956, Morishige won the Mainichi Film Concours and a Blue Ribbon Award as Best Actor for his role in Meoto zenzai. He also won a Special Award in 1983 from the Awards of the Japanese Academy. In 1984, the Awards of the Japanese Academy nominated Morishige for Best Actor in Shosetsu Yoshida gakko. Seven years later, the Awards of the Japanese Academy also nominated him for Best Actor for his role in Ruten no umi.
Sadly, Hisaya Morishige passed away from natural causes in a Tokyo hospital on November 10, 2009. He was 96 years old at the time of his passing.
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