Harold Sakata Biography
Harold Sakata was an American Olympic weightlifter, professional wrestler, and film actor of Japanese descent. Born in Holualoa, Hawaii in 1920 to Japanese-American parents who worked at a Kona coffee farm, Sakata’s life was one of hard work and dedication.
At the age of 18, Sakata began lifting weights and training at the Nu’uanu YMCA in Honolulu, where he quickly gained a reputation as a talented weightlifter. After serving in the US Army during World War II, Sakata continued his weightlifting career, setting records in both the snatch and the clean-and-jerk, and winning the Mr. Hawaii physique title.
Sakata’s weight lifting career really took off and he later earned a spot on the United States’ 1948 London Summer Olympic team. He won a silver medal, coming second to Stanley Stanczyk, who he later competed against Stanczyk in the US Senior National Championships.
A year later, Harold Sakata retired from weightlifting and began training in professional wrestling, adopting the ring name Tosh Togo. He wrestled across Hawaii, the West Coast, and the Pacific Northwest, becoming popular with the Japanese immigrant population. Sakata also had the distinction of wrestling in Japan alongside Rikidōzan, who would become one of the most influential figures in Japanese professional wrestling history.
Harold Sakata’s acting career began with his most famous role as Oddjob in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger. Producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli were impressed with Sakata’s imposing build and intimidating presence, making him the perfect choice for the role. His steel-brimmed bowler hat became a trademark of the Bond series.
Harold Sakata went on to appear in several other films, including Impulse, where he co-starred opposite William Shatner, and made guest appearances on TV shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Rockford Files. Sakata also appeared as Oddjob in a series of TV commercials for Vicks cough syrup in the 1970s.
Sakata had two children and was married only once. He divorced his wife due to the strain placed on their relationship by his constant travel. Harold Sakata died of liver cancer in 1982, leaving behind a legacy as a talented athlete and actor.