Actor Yoshio Yoda, who portrayed Fuji Kobiaji on the classic ABC show “McHale’s Navy,” died earlier this month at age 88.
“James Yoshio Yoda passed away on January 13, 2023, in Fullerton, California. He was born in Tokyo, Japan on March 31, 1934. He was predeceased by his son Edward Yuji Yoda,” read an online obituary.
Yoda — who portrayed a Japanese prisoner of war-turned-seaman — appeared in all 138 episodes of the series, which starred Ernest Borgnine.
“While he was studying law at Keio University in Japan, he was encouraged by an acquaintance to pursue an acting career. He discontinued his studies and went to the United States and enrolled in the film school at the University of Southern California in 1958 from where he graduated with a degree in Cinema Arts.”
Yoda starred in his first movie, “The Horizontal Lieutenant,” in 1961. When the school he was attending at the time asked if any of the students were bilingual in Japanese and English.
The film lead to him being cast in “McHale’s Navy,” which ran from 1962 to 1966, plus two film spinoffs. After that role, he also appeared in a 1969 episode of the comedy ‘Love, American Style,’ which would be his last acting credit.
Yoda changed careers and went on to become an assistant vice president of Toyota Hawaii before finally returning to Fullerton, California.