Akiko Wakabayashi Biography
Akiko Wakabayashi, born on December 13th, 1939, is a retired Japanese actress who achieved international recognition for her role as Aki in the 1967 James Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
Akiko Wakabayashi had a successful career in her native Japan before gaining international fame, primarily starring in Toho Studio’s monster movies such as Dagora, the Space Monster (1964) and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964). In Ghidorah, she played the role of a mystical princess who was gifted with the ability to predict the future and functioned as a prophetess.
During the production of You Only Live Twice, Wakabayashi was originally cast to play Kissy Suzuki, while her co-star Mie Hama was cast to play the smaller part of Suki. However, Hama struggled to learn English, so the two actresses exchanged roles. At Wakabayashi’s suggestion, Suki was renamed Aki. The two actresses had previously starred in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965), which provided footage for Woody Allen’s film What’s Up Tiger Lily?.
Akiko Wakabayashi made a guest appearance in an episode of Shirley’s World in 1971, and then retired from both the big and small screen. According to an interview in G-FAN magazine (No. 76), Wakabayashi cited injuries sustained during filming as the reason for her retirement from acting.