Gedde Watanabe

Gedde Watanabe


6/26/1955, Ogden, Utah

Birth Name

Gary Watanabe



Also Known As

Gedde Watanaby, Gedde Wantanabe, Gedde Wantabe, Gary Watanabe
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Gedde Watanabe is an American actor of Asian background. He is most famously known for his role as Long Duk Dong in the 1984 movie, "Sixteen Candles."


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Gedde's advice to young actors is to be prepared to starve, always have another job, and persevere.

    • Several actors and directors call Gedde "Mr. Crazy Watanabe."

    • Gedde performed in A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum. He was the lead - a slave named Pseudolus. The play took place at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Los Angeles.

    • Gedde consulted a palmist/astrologist before he made his decision to move back to Los Angeles. The astrologist predicted that there would be television and films in his future.

    • Gedde moved to New York to try street singing again. There, he made up to $300 a weekend tax free. He did this for 13-14 years.

    • Gedde enjoys taking refuge in the bohemian coffee houses of Union Square.

    • Gedde enjoys listening to Bob Dylan folk songs. He even sang some of them when he was a street performer.

    • Gedde is an optimist.

    • After the release of Sixteen Candles, Gedde was criticized by the Asian American community for acting Asian when tensions between Americans and Japans were already bad.

    • At first, Gedde considered acting an escape from a chaotic household and constantly arguing parents.

    • Gedde performed in the Broadway musical Ikebana.

    • Throughou the 90s, Gedde settled to frequently performing in television shows such as ER and doing voice-over work for The Simpsons and Batman: Beyond.

    • After his breakout role in Sixteen Candles, Gedde wanted to continue with his likeable Japanese guy persona by playing in roles in UHF (1989) and Gung-Ho (1986).

    • Gedde has frequent roles in major releases, though he is usually acting a minor role that is towards the bottom of the credit list.

    • Gedde performed the voice of Ling in the video game "Kingdom Hearts 2" (2005).

    • For Allmovie, writer Jason Buchanan wrote, "The character that Gedde Watanabe is most remembered for is no doubt 'Long Duk Dong,' the spastic foreign exchange student in Sixteen Candles whose drunken fall from a tree and laughable bastardization of the English language had ninth-graders of the day rolling in theater aisles."

    • Despite what critics may think, Gedde does not actually speak Japanese.

    • Gedde starred in several acting and singing performances in high school.

    • Gedde sang "Someone in a Tree" in the original cast of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Pacific Overtures.

    • During World War II, Gedde's mother was interned by the United States of America.

    • Gedde grew up in Chinatown, San Francisco.

    • Gedde began his show business career as a street singer in Chinatown at the pillars of the Golden Dragon Pavillion. It is said that his performances were so un-applaudable, restaurant owners and cooks threw food at him. Undaunted, he would take the food home and eat them with soy sauce.

    • While auditioning for his role in Sixteen Candles, Gedde performed as if he didn't speak any English, imitating a Korean friend. When he was through, he thanked the casting director in perfect English.

    • Gedde had to have someone else do his singing for his role as Ling in Mulan.

    • Gedde studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California.

    • Gedde is 5'7" (1.70 m) tall.

  • Quotes

    • Gedde: I just love the idea that you have a group of people and there's a dire need to have them on your side to communicate for the evening. There's something in the moment when you can make them laugh or cry and show and incredibly compassionate side of life. I find that a really exemplary way to live.

    • Gedde: It's the most extraordinary and saddest thing, the amount of talent out there not being seen. Look at television and how comparatively few minorities are out there. I understood that very deeply.

    • Gedde: My ethnicity works both for and against me. But I look for parts that aren't necessarily Asian, parts that can be played by someone of any background.