‘Farewell to Manzanar’ director Korty dies

Oscar-winning filmmaker John Korty, whose film adaptation of James D. and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s novel “Farewell to Manzanar” brought the story of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans into American homes in 1976, has died at his home in Point Reyes Station on March 9, 2022, the Marin Independent Journal reports. He was 85.

The TV movie, broadcast on NBC, starred Yuki Shimoda, Nobu McCarthy, Dori Takeshita, Akemi Kikumura Yano, Clyde Kusatsu, Mako, Pat Morita, James Saito and Momo Yashima, among others. Hundreds from the Japanese American community were used as extras in this early telling of the wartime concentration camp experience.

According to Densho.org, the popular memoir on which the film is based “tells the story of one family’s forced removal and confinement at Manzanar through the eyes of a young girl. First published in 1973, ‘Farewell to Manzanar’ has sold over one million copies and is one of the most widely read accounts of Japanese American incarceration and its aftermath.”

Korty earned an Emmy Award in 1974 for directing “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” starring Cicely Tyson, and four years later he won an Oscar for his documentary “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?”

He also made animated shorts for “Sesame Street.”

According to the Marin Independent Journal, Korty was born in Lafayette, Indiana and attended Antioch College in Ohio. For the last 30 years of his life, he lived in Point Reyes Station, the newspaper said.

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