Nobu McCarthy, a film actress who later landed stage roles and became artistic director for East West Players, the Los Angeles based Asian-Pacific theatre, died April 6, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Ms. McCarthy was 67 and died in Brazil, where she was shooting a film. The reported cause of death was an aneurysm in her aorta.
Ms. McCarthy played a leading role in Philip Kan Gotanda's The Wash at the Manhattan Theatre Club and Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and in the film version. She leaves many stage and film roles behind her.
She was born Nobu Atsumi in Ottawa, Canada. Her father was a secretary to the Japanese ambassador. As a child, she was brought to Japan. The L.A. Times reported she trained at the Pavlova School of Ballet in Kamakura, Japan, 1947-1953, sang with choral groups and modeled. She was named Miss Tokyo in beauty pageant.
Against her parents' wishes, in 1955, she married U.S. Army Sgt. David McCarthy. The pair moved to Los Angeles. "When I first came here," McCarthy told The Times in a 1960 interview, "I just knew greetings and 'I love you.' I thought I knew everything and then I found I didn't, and I was scared to go out. But adjustment wasn't very hard for me. It's amazing the way people helped me." In classic Hollywood fashion, an agent saw her and got her an audition at Paramount. She landed a role in the Jerry Lewis comedy, "The Geisha Boy," in 1958. Her film credits include "The Hunters," "Wake Me When It's Over," "Walk Like a Dragon" and "Love With the Proper Stranger." She also appeared in TV shows in the 1960s and pulled away from acting. She divorced in 1970 and joined East West Players (the troupe giving voice to the Asian Pacific islander community, founded in 1965) in 1971.
In 1989, McCarthy was selected as East West's artistic director until 1993. During her time there, the L.A. Times reported, "the group's board and fund-raising were expanded, and she made an effort to open up the theatre's programming and behind-the scenes activities to non-Asians and, within the Asian American community, to non-Japanese Americans."
Her later film credits include the TV movie "Farewell to Manzanar" (a groundbreaking movie about Japanese internment camps in the U.S. during World War II), "Karate Kid II," "Pacific Heights" and "The Painted Desert" in 1993, and more TV series guest appearances.
Ms. McCarthy was predeceased by her second husband, William Cuthbert. The two were given a lifetime achievement award from East West in 1996
She is survived by two children from her first marriage, Marlon and Serena, and three brothers.
— By Kenneth Jones