Harold Sakata (ハロルド 坂田, Harorudo Sakata), born Toshiyuki Sakata (坂田 敏行, Sakata Toshiyuki, July 1, 1920 – July 29, 1982) was a Japanese-American Olympic weightlifter, professional wrestler, and film actor. He won a silver medal for the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London in weightlifting. He was also an actor, best remembered for his role as the villain Oddjob in the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964).
|Birth name||Toshiyuki Sakata|
|Born||July 1, 1920|
Holualoa, Hawaii, U.S.
|Died||July 29, 1982 (aged 62)|
St Francis Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Tosh Togo|
|Billed height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Billed weight||220 lb (100 kg)|
|Trained by||Tsutao Higami|
|Olympic medal record|
|Representing the United States|
Toshiyuki Sakata was born on July 1, 1920, in Holualoa, Hawaii. He moved to the United States mainland and began to go by the more Western name "Harold." At the age of eighteen, he weighed only 113 lb (8 st 1 lb) (51 kg) at a height of 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m). Wishing to "look as good as the other guys", he started lifting weights. Sakata served in the United States Army during World War II. He spent his early life training as a weightlifter and won a silver medal for the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, lifting a total of 380 kg in the light-heavyweight division.
Sakata worked as a professional wrestler under the name Tosh Togo (billed as the brother of Great Togo with a family gimmick, including karateka Masutatsu Oyama as "Mas Togo" and judoka Kokichi Endo as "Ko Togo") from 1949 until the 1970s, becoming Canadian Tag Team Champion.
Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli took notice of Sakata because of his heavy build—he stood 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and weighed 284 lb (129 kg)—which, when coupled with his intimidating gaze, made him the perfect choice for the part of Oddjob. He had no acting background at all, besides pro wrestling, but the film character was to be mute and would require little theatrical skill. Before Sakata had secured the role of Oddjob, another former wrestler, British actor Milton Reid, had auditioned for the role. In 1964 Reid challenged Sakata to a wrestling contest and suggested that the winner ought to get the role. However, given that Reid had been in Dr. No and that his character had been killed off, the producers decided to go with Sakata and the wrestling match did not take place.
As Oddjob, he was a bodyguard to Bond villain Auric Goldfinger, and his sharpened, steel-brimmed bowler hat became a famous and much-parodied trademark of the Bond series. While filming Oddjob's death scene, Sakata's hand was badly burnt, but he held on until he heard director Guy Hamilton call "Cut".
Sakata appeared in several other movies in similar roles and took on "Oddjob" as an informal middle name (in the films Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976) and The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977) he was credited as Harold "Oddjob" Sakata).
With time, Sakata's acting skills developed. He co-starred opposite William Shatner in the movie Impulse (1974), in which he played the character Karate Pete. He also guest starred on a Gilligan's Island episode as Rory Calhoun's henchman, and an episode of The Rockford Files. In 1971, Sakata was a regular on the short-lived TV series, Sarge, starring George Kennedy.
He appeared as Oddjob in a series of TV commercials for Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup in the 1970s. The advertisement commonly showed Oddjob with a nasty cough, which results in his demolishing everything around him as his spasms make him inadvertently lash out and frighten his wife as his condition deteriorates. She grabs a bottle of Vicks Formula 44 and gives Oddjob a spoonful of the cough syrup, which cures his cough; the two bow to each other, and then the wife looks past Oddjob to take in the destruction he has caused. This was occasionally followed by an add-on for a cough drop version of the syrup, which Oddjob ingests before he is claimed by a coughing fit in an extremely crowded space. At least one domestic and one outdoor version of this commercial are known. Sakata made an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on which he parodied the commercial by destroying Carson's set.
Sakata died of liver cancer four weeks after his 62nd birthday, on July 29, 1982, in St Francis Hospital, Honolulu, Hawaii. Five months prior, Sakata made one final public appearance at the 54th Academy Awards. Sakata briefly appeared on stage on his Oddjob attire during Sheena Easton's musical performance of "For Your Eyes Only".
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- 50th State Big Time Wrestling
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (1 time) – with Ike Eakins
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA International Television Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Wild Red Berry (1)  and Great Togo (1)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles version) (1 time) – with "Wild" Red Berry
- NWA Mid-America
- NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (1 time) – with John Smith
- Pacific Northwest Wrestling
- World Wrestling Council
- Goldfinger (1964) .... Oddjob
- Balearic Caper (1966) .... Museum Director
- The Poppy Is Also a Flower (1966) .... Martin
- Le dix-septième ciel (1966) .... (uncredited)
- Dimension 5 (1966) .... Big Buddha
- The Phynx (1970) .... Sakata
- Impulse (1974) .... Karate Pete
- The Wrestler (1974) .... Oddjob
- Broken House (1976) .... (uncredited)
- Mako: The Jaws Of Death (1976) .... Pete
- Bao po (1976)
- The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977) .... Wong
- Record City (1978) .... Gucci
- Death Dimension (1978) .... The Pig
- Goin' Coconuts (1978) .... Ito
- The Billion Dollar Threat (1979, TV Movie) .... Oriental Man
- Xiong zhong (Ninja Strikes Back) (1982) .... Sakata
- Safari of No Return aka Horror Safari (Invaders of the Lost Gold) (1982) .... Tobachi (final film role)
- "Bond's 'Oddjob' Dies of Cancer". Daily Telegraph. 30 July 1982. p. 3.
- Montgomery, Shirly. "1950's Wrestlers: Posing And In Action". Photography of Shirley Montgomery & Venue Programs. Archived from the original on 2003-07-24.
- Svinth, Joseph R. "Harold Sakata: Olympic Weightlifter and Professional Wrestler". Retrieved 2007-10-21.
- Milton Reid - Dr No. Guard - James Bond 007
- Fin Martin and Antohy Evans (August 2003). "Know their Roles". Power Slam Magazine. Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD. pp. 26–31. 109.
- "BBC News Entertainment: Oddjob's hat bowls them over". 1998-09-17. Retrieved January 5, 2010.
- "Harold T. Sakata, a former weightlifter and professional wrestler..." UPI. July 30, 1982.
- Barnes, Mike (September 10, 2014). "James Bond Villain Richard Kiel Dies at 74". Hollywood Reporter.
- *Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
- "International Television Tag Team Title (Los Angeles)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.