Kinuyo Tanaka

Active - 1930 - 1983  |   Born - Nov 29, 1909   |   Died - Mar 21, 1977   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

One of the most successful and important figures in the Japanese film industry, actress Kinuyo Tanaka left the world of light opera at age 14 to give movies a try. Gaining popularity in such frivolities as Young Miss (1930), she scored a dramatic bull's-eye in the 1932 version of the oft-filmed Loyal Forty-Seven Ronin. In the later stages of her career, she appeared in the works of Ozu (Equinox Flower) and Kinoshita (Ballad of Narayama), but was best-known for her collaborations with Kenji Mizoguchi, who directed her brilliant performance in The Life of Oharu (1952). Mizoguchi in fact was deeply in love with Tanaka and asked her to marry him, but she spurned his proposal after he attempted to block her attempts to become Japan's first woman director (her maiden directorial effort was 1953's Love Letter in which she also starred). Prior to her relationship with Mizoguchi, she was briefly married to actor Hiroshi Shimizu. Active right up to her death at 70, Kinuyo Tanaka won the 1975 best actress prize at the Berlin Festival for her work in Sandakan 8.

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