A woman who became an unlikely phenomenon on the television talk show circuit in the 1960s has died. The New York Times reports that Japanese-born Reiko Douglas died Sept. 9 in Los Angeles. She was 77.
She was a regular on U.S. talk shows in the 1960s and 1970s even though she appeared to know little English, the story reports. Douglas and her husband, the late comedy writer Jack Douglas, appeared often on Jack Paar’s TV shows, starting with "The Tonight Show" in the 1960s and on to "Jack Paar Tonight" in the 1970s, the piece notes. They were often billed as "Jack Douglas and Reiko."
They also appeared on talk shows hosted by Merv Griffin, David Frost, Mike Douglas and Dick Cavett, and with Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."
"In her first appearance on Mr. Paar’s show she took the stage alongside her husband in traditional Japanese attire. Her heavily accented, nearly incomprehensible replies to Mr. Paar’s questions caused much hilarity among the audience," the story reports.
"But far from being helplessly adrift in an Anglophone sea, Ms. Douglas was by many accounts in considerable control of the situation: her girlish charm and unassuming speech helped disarm a xenophobic public only a decade and a half after the end of World War II."