It was exactly 95 years ago today, on June 17, 1920, that the legendary — indeed almost mythical — actress Setsuko Hara was born.
She is best known for her roles in six films by Yasujiro Ozu, but also appeared in two of Akira Kurosawa‘s films, No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) and The Idiot (1951), as well as numerous works by Mikio Naruse.
Japan’s “eternal virgin”, Hara never married and famously quit acting in 1963, the year Yasujiro Ozu died and at a time when her career was at its zenith. Hara (born Aida Masae) has since led a very private life in Kamakura, turning down all requests for interviews and refusing to make herself available for photographs.
Her total vanishing act has undoubtedly only solidified her legendary status while also keeping her eternally young in the eyes of the public. It should, however, in no way diminish the appreciation of the enormous talent, grace and presence that she brought to the silver screen.
As well as that beautiful smile, of course, which is celebrated in the YouTube video below.
Happy birthday, Setsuko Hara!