Yoko Shimada, 'Shōgun' Actress, Dead at 69

Yoko Shimada, who won a Golden Globe and scored an Emmy nomination for the 1980 miniseries Shōgun, has died. She was 69. Shimada died at a Tokyo hospital on Monday due to complications from colorectal cancer, according to Japanese media reports.

Shōgun was based on the novel by James Clavell and starred Richard Chamberlain as an English navigator who visits Japan during the 1600s and worked in the service of the shogun. Shimada's English-language skills were limited, but she had one of the few English-speaking roles as Chamberlain's love interest. She won a Golden Globe for her performance and earned an Emmy nomination. The legendary Toshiro Mifune also starred in the series and earned an Emmy nomination.

The series is famous for being the only U.S. television production filmed entirely in Japan and was a big hit for NBC and producers Paramount Television and Toho when it aired. The series won three Emmys, including Outstanding Limited Series. However, the series was edited into a movie in Japan, where it was a box office disappointment. FX is developing a new Shogun series, with Cosmo Jarvis, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Anna Sawai.

Shimada's career began on television in the 1970 series Osanazuma. She also starred in several films, including the 1974 hit The Castle of Sand. After shogun became a success, Shimada found more Hollywood roles, like the part of Japanese-American marathoner Michiko "Miki" Suwa Gorman in the 1981 biopic Little Champion. She also starred in the 1995 martial-arts movie The Hunted with Christopher Lambert.


Shimada's career took a hit when her affair with married rock star Uchida Yuya overshadowed her acting work in 1988, reports Variety. She reportedly struggled with alcoholism and tried to pay off debts by appearing in a nude photo book in 1992. The book was a best-seller, but it didn't help her acting career. In 2011, she appeared in an adult video. Her final films were Kanon, directed by Saiga Toshiro, and God in Jail, directed by Banmei Takahashi. Both movies were released in 2016.