Mako Iwamatsu (マコ 岩松, Mako Iwamatsu), born Makoto Iwamatsu (岩松 信, Iwamatsu Makoto); 10 December 1933 – 21 July 2006), was a Japanese-American actor. Many of his acting roles credited him simply as Mako, omitting his surname. Mako is known for playing Aku from the first four seasons of Samurai Jack, Master Splinter from the movie TMNT, Iroh from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Mr. Lee from Sidekicks.
December 10, 1933
|Died||July 21, 2006 (aged 72)|
|Cause of death||Esophageal cancer|
|Spouse(s)||Shizuko Hoshi (?–2006, his death)|
Personal life change
Mako was born in Kobe, Japan. He was the son of famous children's book author and illustrator Taro Yashima. His parents moved to the United States when he was a small child. He joined them there after World War II, in 1949, joining the military in the 1950s. He became a naturalized American citizen in 1956. When Mako first joined his parents in the US, he studied architecture. During his military service, he discovered his theatrical talent, and trained at the Pasadena Community Playhouse.
Mako was married to actress Shizuko Hoshi with whom he had two daughters (both are actresses) and three grandchildren.
- Never So Few (1959)
- The Sand Pebbles (1966)
- The Hawaiians (1970)
- Highlander III: The Final Dimension (1994)
- Conan the Barbarian (1982)
- Conan the Destroyer (1984)
- Under the Rainbow (1981)
- Sidekicks (1992)
- RoboCop 3 (1993)
- Dexter's Laboratory (1996-2001)
- Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
- Pearl Harbor (2001)
- Bulletproof Monk (2003)
- Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
- Cages (2005)
- The Bird People in China (1998)
- Owls' Castle (1999)
Mako died in Somis, California on 21 July 2006, aged 72, from esophageal cancer. One day before his death, Mako had been confirmed to star in the film TMNT, providing the voice of Splinter. Kevin Munroe, director of the film, confirmed that Mako had completed his recording before his death. The finished film was dedicated to Mako.
During an Avatar: The Last Airbender episode, titled "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" (episode 15 of the second season), which comprises several small stories about the main characters, there is a segment titled, "The Tale of Iroh." It features a dedication to Mako, as he was the voice actor for the character Iroh for the first and second seasons. He was also featured in the Memoriam Montage in the 79th Academy Awards.