Reiko Ohara's life comes to a sad and lonely end


“When you think about her successful career in her younger days, and how the latter half of her life was filled with unfortunate events… she suffered breast cancer, depression, and took care of her elderly mother. Her battle with Guillain-Barre syndrome continued for 30 years. And ultimately, she died a solitary death. It’s simply too much,” said a long-time acquaintance at an entertainment agency, sighing with grief.

It was on Aug 6 that the actress was found dead in the bedroom of her home in Setagaya. Worried relatives had contacted the police when no one could reach her for two weeks. She had been dead for several days.

Ohara was born in 1946 to a family that sold Japanese confectionery in the Hongo area. Upon graduating from high school, she made her debut as an actress. Her popularity quickly rose through her appearances in what came to be called “trendy” dramas, including “Rikon Tomodachi” with actor Masakazu Tamura and “Kurenaizoku no Hanran.” She was voted “the most adored actress” 14 times, and many may still remember her famous line in a whiskey commercial, “sukoshi aishite, nagaku aishite.”

She married twice, both times ending in divorce. Her first husband was actor Tsunehiko Watase whom she co-starred with; their marriage lasted five years. Two years later, in 1980, she married singer Shinichi Mori. Their high profile wedding reception was held at the Imperial Hotel, costing 200 million yen. She divorced four years later. Again faced with the choice between her career and marriage, she chose to be an actress. At a press conference she commented on her separation, “I was also the ‘man.’ It was like having two husbands living together.”

It was in summer of 1975 that she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. The ailment, as she described it, was a relentless recurrence of symptoms, which could only be contained with steroid medications. Additionally, she underwent surgery for breast cancer at the age of 46, and suffered from depression when her doctor, who had given her much emotional support, passed away.

According to a source in the theater business, “We were always worried about her, and why she was tormented by so much misfortune in her life. Toward the end of last year, she had another Guillain-Barre relapse, and broke her hand in two sections. She couldn’t wash her hair or apply make-up on her own.”

Another major concern in her life was her mother, who had heart problems, rheumatism and was wheelchair-bound. Ohara took care of her mother, bathing her and assisting her in the toilet regardless of the state of her own health. Her parents had divorced when she was 8 years old and her mother had raised Ohara on her own. The mother now resides in a nursing facility.

A friend who met with Ohara late last year described her visit: “I knew she wasn’t well, so I expected to see her looking very ill. But even without any make-up she was very attractive, with fair skin. The house appeared empty, though, and all the blinds were shut in every room. She gave me the impression that she hadn’t spoken to anyone in a long time, and seemed happy to talk about the good old days. She looked sad when I was about to leave. I offered to support her because her legs were so weak she’d stagger. The way she clung to me – I knew she must have been feeling very lonely. It was hard to say good-bye.”

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Asia flu was bad in 1946-1947 --Makes one wonder if she got Guillian-Barre from a vaccination. +1972

-Same variant as current swine flu.

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The poor woman...may she rest in peace and find happiness in the next life.

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Makes one wonder if she got Guillian-Barre from a vaccination

Government enforced vaccinations need to be resisted.

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rest in peace - i had never heard of her work until now, i just wish it weren't the way here that single yet successful women died alone. not much for women to aspire to, in the end.

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The poor woman...may she rest in peace and find happiness in the next life.

i just wish it weren't the way here that single yet successful women died alone

sorry to sound harsh but her dying alone was HER CHOICE...of course her illness/death was unfortunate and bad luck and not a choice, but everyone dies in the end and whether you die alone or with people who care about you was HER CHOICE. She chose her career and this is what she KNEW would be the end result, fatal illness or natural death. She deserves no sympathy from anyone.

btw I dare say the agency acquaintance was just sighing for potential % cuts of salary that they missed because of her illness..and yes I have met Japanese entertainment agency people for all those out there who question my cutting remarks...and yes I am (getting) divorced from a Japanese entertainment person and know all too well what these people are really like in person. They care about no-one but themselves...they use phrases like " I am an artist and I have to do this or I am not me" or "I have no time for anything else because I would be doing a bad job otherwise and I can't let that happen no matter what else happens".

At a press conference she commented on her separation, “I was also the ‘man.’ It was like having two husbands living together.” This is a perfect example of the excuses such people make...pathetic!

What pisses me off is that these people knew that they would always choose their jobs over anyone else, but they still got married...and probably ruined the lives of the other 2 men...I am certainly a mess and seeing a counselor at the moment. SYMPATHY for her..BAH!

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SYMPATHY for her..BAH!

So much empathy. It's good that you are not overcome with bitterness.

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For all the glamour and recognition the media accords them, I get the feeling that a lot of celebrities wind up living a solitary existence rather than constantly fending off reporters and admirers. Even their attempts at philanthropy are glitzy and suspect. The compensation may be lavish, but is it really worth it?

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So much empathy keep reading yr celebrity gossip mags, its good to know you are not in touch with the real world.

Beelzebub>For them it is worth it and thats fine as its a personal decision what you do with your time on this world, BUT what I hate is when naive people like aj2o1 and zoechan make celebrity's lives somehow beyond reproach. That somehow they couldn't help being in the position they ended up in, which is just absolute rubbish.

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What a sad way to live and sad way to die. I wish she had had more friends who cares about her..RIP.

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seesaw> sorry, but do u not get my point above? She CHOSE not to have friends who truly cared about her...u wishing makes no difference to the situation SHE created.

but yes RIP...that I do agree with..I may sound bitter but I am human and any death is sad...I just wish people weren't so naive about it.

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