Burt Kwouk, the actor best known for his role in the classic Pink Panther films, died on Tuesday at age 85.
Kwouk first played Cato Fong in the 1964 Pink Panther movie A Shot in the Dark. Cato was manservant to Peter Seller’s imbecilic Inspector Clouseau, who instructed Cato to attack him whenever possible — to help the inspector keep his reflexes sharp. Cato was a martial arts master, and his surprise assaults on Clouseau were usually the most hilarious parts of the movies.
Kwouk went on to play Cato in many other films, such as Revenge of the Pink Panther and The Return of the Pink Panther (which also starred Christopher Plummer). The actor further had roles in the James Bond films You Only Live Twice and Goldfinger, the Dr. Who television series, and in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun.
Kwouk was born in Cheshire, England in 1930, but grew up in Shanghai, China. He began his acting career in 1957. His first major film role was in the 1958 classic Inn of the Sixth Happiness, opposite Ingrid Bergman. His last role was in 2010.
He was awarded the OBE, the Officer of the Order of the British Empire, by the Queen of England in 2011 for his work in drama. Prince Charles told Kwouk he was a fan. “He told me that when he gets depressed, he puts on a Pink Panther film and that makes him feel better,” said Kwouk years ago.
Kwouk’s agent says the actor “passed peacefully.”