Mako was the son of the famous children book writer and illustrator Taro Yashima. However, his parents moved to the United States when he was young. He was then raised by his grandparents in Kobe while his parents worked with the Office of War Information after the start of WWII. He then moved to New York at the age of 15 and became a citizen at age 23. He studied to become an architect, but switched to acting. He made his screen debut in "The Ugly Dachshund" but came to fame in his next movie as the engine-room coolie in "The Sand Pebbles" opposite Steve McQueen. He co-founded the East West Players, an Asian-American theater in Los Angeles, and was nominated for a Tony in his Broadway debut in 1976 in "Pacific Overtures." He passed away on July 21, 2006 at the age of 72 after a long battle with esophageal cancer. He continued acting until a few months before his death, and was probably one of the best-known Asian-American actors to grace movies and TVs. Mako was not only a great actor, he was determined to let people know that Asian-American actors are just as good as the traditional "White" actors we have today. He made his whole life about acting and has lived a full life which many people will remember.