Toshiyuki "Harold" Sakata (July 1, 1920 – July 29, 1982) was an American Olympic weightlifter, professional wrestler, and film actor of Japanese descent who is most famous for his role as the villain Oddjob in the James Bond film Goldfinger.
Toshiyuki Sakata was born on July 1, 1920 in Holualoa, Hawaii. He moved to the United States mainland and began to go by the more Western name "Harold." At the age of eighteen, he weighed only 113 lb (8 st 1 lb) (51 kg) at a height of 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m). Wanting to "look as good as the other guys", he started lifting weights. He spent his early life training as a weightlifter and won a silver medal for the United States at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, lifting a total of 410 kg in the heavyweight division. He also did a stint as a professional wrestler under the name Tosh Togo from the early 1950s until the early 1960s, becoming Canadian Tag Team Champion.
Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli took notice of Sakata because of his heavy build— he stood 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) and weighed 284 lb (129 kg)—which, when coupled with his intimidating gaze, made him the perfect choice for the part of Oddjob. He had no acting background at all besides pro wrestling but the film character was to be mute and would require little theatrical skill. Before Sakata had secured the role of Oddjob, another former wrestler, British actor Milton Reid, had auditioned for the role. In 1964 Reid challenged Sakata to a wrestling contest and suggested that the winner ought to get the role. However, given that Reid had been in Dr. No and that his character had been killed off, the producers decided to go with Sakata and the wrestling match did not take place.
As Oddjob, he was bodyguard to Bond villain Auric Goldfinger and his sharpened, steel-brimmed bowler hat became a famous and much-parodied trademark of the Bond series. While filming Oddjob's death scene, Sakata's hand was badly burnt, but he held on until he heard director Guy Hamilton say "Cut".
Sakata appeared in several other movies in similar roles and took on "Oddjob" as an informal middle name (he was seen in the film The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington credited as Harold "Oddjob" Sakata).
With time, Sakata's acting skills improved. He co-starred opposite William Shatner in the 1974 movie Impulse, in which he played the character Karate Pete. He also guest starred on a Gilligan's Island episode as Rory Calhoun's henchman. In 1971, Sakata was a regular on the short-lived TV series, "Sarge", starring George Kennedy.
He appeared as Oddjob in a series of TV commercials for Vicks Formula 44 cough syrup in the 1970s. The advertisement showed Oddjob with a nasty cough, which results in him demolishing the neighborhood and frightening a woman inside her house as his cough spasms grow worse and worse. The woman grabs a bottle of Vicks Formula 44 and races for the door, only to see Oddjob karate chop through it. She quickly opens the door and gives him a spoonful of the cough syrup, which cures his cough. The two bow to each other, and the woman looks past Oddjob to see the destruction he has caused. He made an appearance on the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on which he parodied the commercial by destroying Carson's set.
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-Atlantic version) (1 time) – with Ike Eakins
- NWA International Television Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Wild Red Berry
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles version) (1 time) – with “Wild” Red Berry
- NWA Southern Tag Team Championship (Mid-America version) (1 time) – with John Smith
- Profile at History of Olympic Weightlifting
- Profile at Online World of Wrestling
- Championship Wrestling from Florida: Tosh Togo
- Harold Sakata at the Internet Movie Database