Veteran film actor Burt Kwouk has passed away at the age of 85. Kwouk, as a British based man of Chinese origin (he was raised in Shanghai but he was actually born in Cheshire), cornered the market for “oriental” roles in British produced films from the late 1950s onwards.
Burt Kwouk appeared in the James Bond atom-bomb conspiracy thriller, Goldfinger (1965) and in the series’ space hijacking epic You Only Live Twice (1967). He also had a role in the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967). In these movies he usually played a Communist Chinese apparatchik helping the evil plans of the villains involved. Kwouk played a similar role as a Chinese executive officer to Fu Manchu in the 1960s films opposite Christopher Lee in the starring role, and appeared in The Chairman (1969), another espionage adventure starring Gregory Peck set mainly in China at the time of the Cultural Revolution.
However, Kwouk’s most famous role was in the Pink Panther comedy film series in which he played Cato, the Chinese Kung Fu fighting friend of Peter Sellars’ bumbling Inspector Clouseau character.
Later in his career, his “comedy Chinaman” turn was used on television by comedian Harry Hill on his show. He also provided and the jestful voice over in the comedy gambling show Banzai, amusingly delivered in a Chinese Mockney accent (“Cor Blimey O’Reilly!”).
Burt Kwouk had a more serious role playing a Japanese commander in the BBC wartime prison camp television series Tenko. Kwouk deservedly received an OBE for his acting in 2011. The Seradata Space Intelligence team has enjoyed Kwouk’s performances over the years and we salute him and give our condolences to his family and friends.