Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kathy Horan - Found! (And She Didn't Even Know She Was Lost!)

I used that phrase on a long-vanished message board thread in 2001, but it became even more appropriate in 2007.

Who is Kathy Horan, anyway? Well, long story short, she was an American living in Japan who appeared in a number of Japanese movies. As you can see on her IMDB page, she has decent-sized roles in such cinema legends as THE GREEN SLIME, GENOCIDE : WAR OF THE INSECTS, and GOKE, BODY SNATCHER FROM HELL. Besides those, she also turns up in KING KONG ESCAPES, LATITUDE ZERO, and THE X FROM OUTER SPACE. She had an exciting screen presence for someone who was essentially an amateur, and she was quite attractive as well. She's on the cover of the U.K. R2 DVD of GOKE and you can see a decent shot of her on this page from production company Shochiku. She's the non-Japanese person, obviously.

Beyond that, she was a mystery. Heck, there was even confusion as to whether her name was "Kathy Horan" or "Cathy Horlan". Like most gaijin in Japanese movies, she eventually disappeared, leaving no clues about herself except the films in which she appeared.

Until, remarkably, I got involved.

As you might have gathered, I have a fascination with the foreigners in Japanese movies. Kathy Horan was definitely very high on my list of actors who interested me. Periodically, I plug their names and relevant keywords into search engines to see what I discover. Usually, I get nothing. But one night, somehow, I stumbled onto what I deduced might be Kathy Horan's e-mail address.

Well, that was too good an opportunity to pass up. I sat down and composed an e-mail, with the subject header "Are you THE Kathy Horan?". I waited a few days and heard nothing, so I didn't hold onto it. I mean, long shot, right? But eventually, I got an e-mail back, which I still have to this day.

Subject line? "Yes, I am the Kathy Horan".

Well, you coulda knocked me over with a feather. We exchanged a couple of e-mails, and we were going to do a Q&A, but eventually it sort of dried up. It was hard to be worried about it too much. I mean, she probably had a lot of things to do, and things like that can slip through the cracks. What I took away from the experience was that I got to interact, albeit briefly, with a movie "star" (well, she was to me) who had always fascinated and entertained me. That's good stuff.

Well anyway, fast forward a few years. An acquaintance of mine named Brett Homenick inquired about my contact with her and wondered if I could get him in touch with her. Well, I hadn't had contact with her in years, but since he asked me, I directed him to the page where I found her e-mail. I pretty much left the entire thing in his hands, and his success or failure at interviewing her would be based on his actions alone.

(Disclaimer - Brett is the only person who actually asked me about getting in touch with Kathy independently since I had lost touch with her. I did not, in any way, try to keep Kathy "under wraps" - which would be an absurd notion even if I'd wanted to do it. The information I had was widely available on the Internet if you knew where to look. If others had contacted me in the same way that Brett did, it's entirely probable I would have done the same thing for them. Simple as that.)

Well, Brett succeeded. He got in touch with Kathleen (her full name) and arranged an interview. He asked me for my input, which I gladly provided, and he put my name in the acknowledgments of the interview's opening. That interview was published in G-Fan #78, and while brief, it felt a lot like the culmination of years of dreams. Because there it is, in print - an interview with the long-lost and mysterious Kathy Horan. She is alive and well, and doing great in her life since leaving Japan in 1969. She hasn't been back, but feels confident she will "someday".

I hope so, Kathy. And I'm glad life has treated you so kindly.

Needless to say, I'm proud that my interest in Kathy Horan's career gave her the chance to tell her story (what she remembers of it) to an audience. To me, that makes this crazy hobby of mine worth it.

1 comment:

SRI2014 said...

I just watched several episodes of Kaiki Daisakusen, including the one she was in, and wondered who this Caucasian woman might be. Glad to know she is well. Thanks