Reiko Sato

Reiko Sato (December 19, 1931 – May 28, 1981) was an American dancer and actress.

Reiko Sato
Born(1931-12-19)December 19, 1931
Los Angeles, California, US
DiedMay 28, 1981(1981-05-28) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, US
Years active1950–63

Early life

Sato was born in Los Angeles, California to issei farm operator, Tonezo Sato and his wife Chieko.[1] She and her family were interned at the Gila River War Relocation Center during World War II.[2] Her mother became a real estate investor after the war; Reiko also had many siblings. She graduated from Belmont High School in 1949, later attending Los Angeles City College. She continued her studies in ballet.


Sato is best known for playing seamstress Helen Chao in the 1961 feature film Flower Drum Song. She also had a dramatic role in The Ugly American, receiving personal coaching from actor Marlon Brando with whom she had a relationship. She had been on contract with Fox and Universal, but nothing materialized, and she retired from Hollywood.

She had performed as the original Princess of Ababu in the Broadway production of Kismet, as well as the movie. She was also in the Broadway play, Destry Rides Again, having two roles.[1]

Final years

Sato spent her final years involved in various organizations promoting equality for Asian-American performers. She lived on Mulholland Drive. She died of a brain aneurism on May 28, 1981.[3] Half of her ashes were sent to a Buddhist temple. The other half were "spirited away" to Marlon Brando's private island.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1950Mother Didn't Tell MeSukiUncredited
1950Woman on the RunSusie
1953Target Hong KongDice GirlUncredited
1955House of BambooCharlie's GirlUncredited
1955Kismet1st Princess of Ababu
1957Sûpâ jaiantsu - Kaiseijin no majô
1960Hell to EternityFamika
1961Flower Drum SongHelen Chao
1963The Ugly AmericanRachani, Deong's Wife(final film role)


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