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CITY ARTS : East-West Chronicler

July 04, 1993|IRIS YOKOI

A collection of the work of Jack M. Iwata, who spent his career photographing some of this century's most famous people and historic events, will be displayed at the Japanese American National Museum starting Saturday.

Iwata, who died a year ago this month, was a second-generation Japanese-American born in Seattle. He worked for Kyodo News Service, Japan's largest wire service, for 40 years. He also free-lanced for Rafu-Shimpo, the largest Japanese-American bilingual daily newspaper in the United States.

As the only Japanese-American member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., Iwata often served as a liaison between Hollywood and Japan. His photographs include a picture of Elvis Presley with two starlets from Japan, and one of Charlie Chaplin eating a meal with American silent-film star Sessue Hayakawa. Other subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Hope and Rock Hudson.

In his 60-year career, Iwata also chronicled the changing relations between Japan and the United States. He documented the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans and photographed the unveiling of Nissan's first test car in this country.

"I wish Jack could see this exhibit, because he told me, 'It was my dream to have a photography exhibit,' " said Eiichi Sonobe, Los Angeles bureau chief for Kyodo and a friend of Iwata's.

Despite his successful career, Iwata was "not so famous before his death," said Sonobe. But a book of his photographs, "One More Shot," published a year before he died brought Iwata much fame in Japan and the recognition the humble man deserved, Sonobe said.

Sonobe got Bungei-Shunju, one of the largest publishers in Japan, to publish "One More Shot." A limited number of the books will be available for purchase during the show.

"One More Shot: Jack Iwata Documenting Changing U.S.-Japan Relations," Saturday through Oct. 17 at the Japanese American National Museum, 369 E. 1st St. in Little Tokyo; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; $4 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and students; (213) 625-0414.

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