- 2021 – Sonny Chiba, Japanese actor (b. 1939).
Shinichi Chiba (Japanese: 千葉 真一, Hepburn: Chiba Shin’ichi, born Sadaho Maeda; 22 January 1939 to 19 August 2021), known internationally as Sonny Chiba, was a Japanese actor and martial artist.
Chiba was one of the first actors to achieve stardom through his skills in martial arts, initially in Japan and later before an international audience.
Born in Fukuoka, Chiba played a variety of sports in high school, including baseball and volleyball. He also practiced gymnastics and participated at the National Sports Festival of Japan in his third year. When he was a university student, he learned martial arts, earning a black belt in Kyokushin Karate in 1965 and later receiving a fourth degree in 1984.
Chiba’s career began in the 1960s, when he starred in two tokusatsu superhero shows. In his first role, he replaced Susumu Wajima as the main character Kōtarō Ran/Seven Colour Mask in Seven Colour Mask (Nana-iro kamen) in the second half of the series. However, his breakthrough role was in the 1974 film The Street Fighter. Before retiring, Chiba had starred in Kill Bill: Volume 1, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Chiba died from complications of COVID-19 on 19 August 2021, at age 82.