TOKYO (CelebrityAccess) – Johnny Kitagawa, a kingpin of Japan’s entertainment industry for more than half a century, passed away this week, reports The Associated Press.
Kitagawa reportedly died from a subarachnoid hemorrhage Tuesday at a Tokyo hospital, where he had been treated after falling unconscious June 18, according to a statement from his office, Johnny & Associates.
Born in Los Angeles in 1931, Kitagawa grew up in both the U.S. and Japan. He established his talent agency in the early 1960s and got to work creating a four-man group called the Johnny’s. Over the years, he launched the careers of multiple boybands including Arashi, Tokio and SMAP, challenging cultural norms in Japan. His agency grew to dominate the country’s entertainment market while his artists became so popular that they set the standard for Japanese male idols, and “Johnny’s” became a word for attractive men, reports AP.
Kitagawa was known to call his artists and trainees his “children,” and was affectionately known as Johnny-san.
He was 87-years-old.