Footage of Karate Kid legend Pat Morita showing off his epic Redd Foxx impression during an interview has resurfaced online. The Happy Days star also shares a fond memory of Foxx lending him a hand early in his career, and how he paid it forward.
The excerpt is derived from a significantly longer interview that took place more than two decades ago. Karen Herman conducted this interview on October 13, 2000, in Las Vegas for the Television Academy Foundation.
In his in-depth interview, lasting nearly three and a half hours, Pat Morita discusses his early years, including his childhood internment in a California camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Morita talks about embracing comedy at 30 and quickly making his television debut on the renowned Hollywood Palace. He shares his experiences on television, eventually landing a recurring role as the amiable “Arnold Takahashi” on Happy Days. He also reflects on his involvement in the iconic Karate Kid movies, as well as his life and career at that time.
Pat Morita Considered Redd Foxx a Hollywood Mentor
Reminiscing about his appearance on Sanford and Son, Morita speaks warmly of his mentor, the late Redd Foxx. The pair had great comedic chemistry and helped cement Morita as a breakout comedic actor.
The viral interview clip highlights a moment when Morita humbled himself and approached Foxx, seeking a loan. Foxx’s response was not only beautiful but also a remarkable act of kindness that undoubtedly left a lasting impact.
“I’m 3500 dollars short,” Morita remembers telling Foxx. “I’ll work it off. I’ll pay you off any way I can.” This is when the Mulan star breaks out his Foxx impression.
“I ain’t got no small change right now,” Morita quips as Foxx. In the clip, Morita vividly recalls Foxx summoning his secretary and promptly issuing a check. The Sanford and Son star then laid down the terms of his loan to the young comedian. “As he’s writing and before he signs his names,” Morita recalled. “He [Foxx] said, ‘look here, I don’t want no papers, no payback, no interests, no IOU.”
“I know you’re gonna make it one day son,” Morita remembers Foxx adding. Morita said that he did indeed end up hitting it big in Hollywood shortly after the loan. He claimed in the interview that he never forgot Foxx’s generosity, and did his best to help others struggling as they came up in the business.
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