TOKYO- Japanese actress and singer Yoshiko "Shirley" Yamaguchi, famed for her hit song Fragrance Of The Night, has died at the age of 94 after a life as dramatic as any of her films.
Yamaguchi, who was born to Japanese parents in pre-war Manchuria, where her father worked for the railway, entertained Chinese and Japanese audiences posing as a Chinese under her assumed identity Li Xianglan.
The actress, who formally went by the surname of her late husband, the diplomat Hiroshi Otaka, succumbed to heart failure at her home in Tokyo on Sept 7, her family said yesterday.
"She always stayed home in recent years because of her old age but led a normal life," a family member told AFP by telephone. "She watched various DVDs including movies and documentaries from other countries like China and the United States."
Yamaguchi was long regarded as Chinese after making her debut in the 1938 movie Honeymoon Express by Manchuria Film Productions.
Some of her movies during this period were seen as pro-Japanese propaganda, including China Nights (1940), in which she starred with Japanese heartthrob Kazuo Hasegawa, and she later expressed regret over them.
Arrested after World War II as a collaborator, she narrowly avoided execution for treason by revealing her Japanese identity to the Chinese court.
After her deportation from China in 1946, she relaunched her career in Japan under her birth name, Yoshiko Yamaguchi. She also played a leading role in US movies and musicals in the 1950s as Shirley Yamaguchi.
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