Like American film star John Wayne, Ken Takakura has defined the Japanese man and has had a prolific superstar film career, appearing in more than 200 films, shifting from "yakuza" or crime-action films to more mainstream fare. He thrice received the Japanese Academy Award as Best Actor and has on occasion appeared in English-language films. A graduate of Meiji University, Takakura studied commerce, but turned to acting soon after graduation, making his screen debut in 1955 in "Denko Karate-uchi." He toiled for about a decade before becoming a bona fide star with a string of Japanese hits in the mid-60s, more frequently playing men of the current era rather than mythical samurai or heroic icons of the glory days. When legendary Hollywood director Robert Aldrich needed an actor to play the Japanese officer pursuing Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine in "Too Late the Hero" (1970), he turned to Takakura, who stole the picture. He did the same playing a crime boss for Sydney Pollack in his next English-language effort, "The Yakuza" (1975). Takakura did not pursue any ongoing connection with Hollywood, but rather continued to make Japanese hits, including "Eki/Station" (1981), "Antarctica" (1982), and "A Un/Buddies" (1989), films with little release in the West. Hollywood called again in 1989 with "Black Rain," in which Takakura was Andy Garcia's Japanese police connection, and for "Mr. Baseball" (1992), in which Takakura instructs Tom Selleck on how to play an American game in a foreign land. Takakura next appeared in Kon Ichikawa's international hit "47 Ronin" (1994). The drama "Railroad Man" (1999) and Yasuo Furuhata's acclaimed "The Firefly" (2001) followed. Zhang Yimou's "Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles" (2005) and Furuhata's "Dearest" (2012) proved to be the semi-retired Takakura's final films. Ken Takakura died of lymphoma on November 10, 2014, at the age of 83.