Here's what the entertainment world will miss about the actor who played Arnold on ''Happy Days'' and Mr. Miyagi in ''The Karate Kid'' series

By Ron Howard
Updated December 23, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Ron Howard remembers Pat Morita

JUNE 28, 1932-NOV. 24, 2005

What’s so vivid in my mind is this impish, entertaining spirit that also offered a lot of wisdom. He’d seen the world from a lot of different perspectives. In the most straightforward, progressive way, he was happy to talk about everything, from racism to internment camps to playing in Las Vegas. To actually talk to somebody who, as a kid, had been in an internment camp, was, of course, startling. He’d talk about the struggle, but he almost viewed it with a sense of achievement — the way he and his family got through it. Funny people have all kinds of things fueling them, and Pat was no different. On the Happy Days set he’d be very quiet, off somewhere on the phone or reading the paper. Then he’d be called in to rehearse one of his scenes and there’d be this big explosion and suddenly he was Arnold — going ”bah-ha-ha-ha,” running jokes, forgetting his lines, teasing people, and kidding with the writers. Then the scene was over and Pat would vanish, and he’d be gone until it was time to be funny again. (Morita died of complications from alcoholism in Las Vegas.)