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On this Day in Movie History, July 29, 1982: Oddjob Dies

Born Toshiyuki “Harold” Sakata July 1, 1920, a Japanese American Olympic weightlifter, professional wrestler, and film actor most famous for his role as the villain “Oddjob” in the James Bond film Goldfinger, Harold “Oddjob” Sakata died on this day, July 29, 1982.

Toshiyuki Sakata was born in Holualoa, Hawaii, of Japanese descent. He moved to the United States mainland and began to go by the more Western name “Harold.” Training as a weightlifter, Sakata won a silver medal for the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, lifting a total of 410 kg/903 lb. in the Heavyweight division. He also did a stint as a professional wrestler under the name Tosh Togo from the early 1950s until the early 1960s, becoming Canadian Tag Team Champion.

He had no acting background at all besides pro wrestling but the film character was to be mute and would required little theatrical skill. Because of his heavy build—- he stood 5 ft 10 in and weighed 284 pounds–which, when coupled with his intimidating gaze, made him the perfect choice for the part of Oddjob, the bodyguard to Bond villain Auric Goldfinger. His sharpened, steel-brimmed bowler hat became a famous and much-parodied trademark of the Bond series.

Sakata appeared in several other movies in similar roles and took on “Oddjob” as an informal middle name (he was seen in the film The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington credited as Harold “Oddjob” Sakata).

With time, Sakata’s acting skills improved. He co-starred opposite William Shatner in the movie Impulse, in which he played the character Karate Pete. He also guest starred on a Gilligan’s Island episode as Rory Calhoun’s henchman. In 1971, Sakata was a regular on the short-lived TV series, Sarge, starring George Kennedy.

Sakata died of liver cancer on July 29, 1982, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

1905 – Clara (Gordon) Bow (actress: Hula, Dancing Mothers, Mantrap, Free to Love, Down to the Sea in Ships; died Sep 27, 1965)

1907 – Melvin Belli (‘King of Torts’: attorney: represented Mae West, Errol Flynn, Muhammad Ali, Jack Ruby, Tammy Fae Bakker; author: Everybody’s Guide to the Law; died July 9, 1996)

1911 – Stephen (Horace) McNally (actor: Dear Detective, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, A Bullet is Waiting, The Black Castle; died June 4, 1994)

1921 – Richard Egan (actor: Love Me Tender, The Hunters, A Summer Place, Blackbeard the Pirate; died July 20, 1987)

1924 – Lloyd Bochner (actor: Naked Gun 2 1/2, Morning Glory, Dynasty, The Richard Boone Show, One Man’s Family, Hong Kong; died Oct 29, 2005)

1924 – Robert Horton (actor: Wagon Train, A Man Called Shenandoah, Kings Row, The Green Slime, Men of the Fighting Lady)

1930 – Paul Taylor (dancer: Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company: Emmy Award-winning choreographer: Speaking in Tongues [1992], Kennedy Center Honors [1992] “…for enhancing the lives of people around the world and enriching the culture of our nation.”)

1933 – Robert Fuller (actor: Laramie, Wagon Train, Emergency, Maverick, Donner Pass: The Road to Survival, Sinai Commandos)

1941 – David Warner (actor: Holocaust, Tron, Tom Jones, Time Bandits, Star Trek V & VI, Wild Palms, Ice Cream Man, In the Mouth of Madness, The Old Curiosity Shop, The Man with Two Brains)

1951 – Leslie Easterbrook (actress: Police Academy series, Private Resort, The Song of the Lark, ManiaX)

1963 – Alexandra Paul (actress: Baywatch, The Paperboy, Sunset Grill, American Nightmare, Christine)

1972 – Wil Wheaton (actor: Stand by Me, Toy Soldiers, Star Trek: the Next Generation, The Liar’s Club)

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