Soon-Tek Oh, a veteran Asian-American actor who appeared in such films as Disney’s Mulan and the James Bond entry The Man With the Golden Gun, has died at the age of 85. Actor Chil Kong reported on his website that Oh died on April 4 after a battle with Alzheimer’s.
The Korean-American actor voiced the character of Fa Zhou, the father of the titular character in Disney’s 1998 animated feature Mulan and its 2004 sequel, Mulan II. Oh also appeared in the 1974 James Bond installment The Man With the Golden Gun.
Oh’s acting career spans decades. His television credits include appearances in such shows as Hawaii Five-O, Kung-Fu, M*A*S*H, Charlie’s Angels, Magnum P.I., Hill Street Blues, MacGyver, Zorro, and Touched by an Angel. He also starred in the Chuck Norris action vehicle Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and the Chris Chan Lee-directed indie film Yellow.
In 1965, Oh co-founded the Los Angeles-based East West Players, one of the first Asian-American theater groups in the U.S. After the L.A. riots in 1992, he launched the Society of Heritage Performers with the goal of elevating Asian-American voices and counteracting stereotypical depictions of Asian-Americans in mainstream media.
Kong wrote in tribute to his friend and mentor Oh: “throughout my artistic life, Mr. Oh gave me three gifts: a thirst and understanding of my place in the history of Asian artists in America, approval to stay ‘true to myself’ as an artist.”
“I will never be able to re-pay him for what he did for me,” Kong added. “How he shaped me as an artist, as a community leader, and as a parent. All I can do is promise to stay true to my artistic self just as Mr. Oh strived to do all his life.”
On the same site, actor Tim Lounibos also shared: "He awakened within me a life-changing cultural and community awareness. Mr. Oh constantly coached and mentored me (sometimes severely) … and taught me life lessons through his personal experiences and stories."
A memorial service for Oh is set for April 14 in L.A.