Japanese action movie star Sonny Chiba dies at 82 due to COVID-19

Kyodo -- Aug 20
Japanese actor Shinichi Chiba, known abroad as Sonny Chiba, who dazzled action movie fans in Japan and overseas with karate and other martial arts techniques, died Thursday at a hospital near Tokyo due to pneumonia associated with COVID-19, his office said. He was 82.

Chiba was infected with the novel coronavirus in late July and initially stayed at home. As his condition deteriorated, he was admitted to a hospital in Chiba Prefecture near the capital on Aug. 8 and received an oxygen supply.

The actor had not been vaccinated, the office said.

Born in 1939 in Fukuoka Prefecture, Chiba, whose real name was Sadaho Maeda, gained nationwide popularity through his role in the television drama series "Key Hunter," which began in the late 1960s.

The 1974 karate movie "Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken" (The Street Fighter) featuring his action-packed performance became a hit in the United States and remains popular outside Japan. - Kyodo