Burt Kwouk

Burt Kwouk Biography

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Burt (Herbert) Tsangtse Kwouk was a renowned British actor, most famous for his iconic role as Cato in the Pink Panther movies.

Born on 18 July 1930 in Warrington, Lancashire, to Chinese parents, Herbert spent his early childhood in Shanghai where he attended the Shanghai Jesuit Mission School.

Burt Kwouk returned to Britain in 1947 after his parents lost their fortune during the Chinese communist revolution in the 1940s. Herbert completed his education in the United States and graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1953.


Upon returning to Britain in 1954, Burt Kwouk was convinced by his girlfriend to pursue acting, which led to his debut in Windom’s Way in 1957. He gained international prominence for playing Cato Fong in the Pink Panther movie series, a role he played in seven movies from 1964 until the 2006 reboot. His portrayal of Cato involved a running gag where he would attack Inspector Clouseau, played by Peter Sellers, to keep him alert, often resulting in hilarious chaos.

Aside from the Pink Panther movies, Kwouk appeared in various other films such as The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958), where he played the leader of a prison revolt. Kwouk also played a part in two James Bond movies: starring as Mr. Ling, a Chinese expert in nuclear fission in Goldfinger (1964) and he was cast as SPECTRE 3 in You Only Live Twice (1967). He also starred in the unofficial Bond film Casino Royale (1967).

Kwouk also had a significant presence on British television, featuring in numerous TV series such as The Saint alongside Roger Moore, Man of the World, and Danger Man, where he was often cast as an oriental character.

Burt Kwouk also made a lasting impression in the British drama series Tenko (1981-1984), where he played the role of Major Yamauchi, an honourable but misguided Imperial Japanese Army officer. He also had a regular role in the long-running British sitcom Last of the Summer Wine (2002-2010) as Electrical Entwistle.

In addition to his acting career, Burt Kwouk was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2011 for his services to drama. He married Caroline Tebbs in 1961, and they had a son, Christopher, in 1974. Burt Kwouk passed away on 24 May 2016 at the age of 85 due to cancer.