At age 72, Mako Iwamatsu, usually credited with his first name only, died from esophageal cancer last Friday, at his home in Somis, California. The Japanese-born American actor earned “Supporting Actor” Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the role of Po-han in the 1966 “Best Picture” nominee The Sand Pebbles. Likewise well-noted in Mako’s career is the part of Akiro ‘The Wizard’ in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984).
To the animation community, Mako was a healthy presence. His first animated act came in 1972, with the Blue Racer cartoon Yokahama Mama. Mako’s voice would later be heard as Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender (2006), Master Offay in Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! (2005), Happy Cat and Achoo in Duck Dodgers (2003 and 2005), Narrator in Grim & Evil (2004), The Ancient One in What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (2003), Aku in Samuri Jack (2001), and Main Title Narrator in Dexter’s Laboratory. In the realm of animated features, he provided the voice of Mr. Yamaguchi in 2000’s Rugrats in Paris: The Movie. His latest animated role would have been that of Master Splinter in next year’s anticipated TMNT, the big screen return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For more information on the life of Mako, please visit The Big Cartoon Database and The Internet Movie Database. Thank you to “NeoSuperBlissey” at the Animated News Forum for the alert of this sad news.