NEW YORK — Reiko Douglas, a Japanese-born entertainer who became a popular guest on talk shows in the 1960s and ’70s though she appeared to speak little English, died Sept. 9 in Los Angeles. She was 77.
Her death was from cancer.
With her husband, comedy writer Jack Douglas, Mrs. Douglas made many appearances on Jack Paar’s television shows, starting with “The Tonight Show’’ in the early 1960s and continuing through “Jack Paar Tonight’’ in the 1970s.
The Douglases, usually billed in tandem as “Jack Douglas and Reiko,’’ also frequently appeared on the shows of Merv Griffin, David Frost, Mike Douglas, and Dick Cavett and on the Johnny Carson incarnation of “The Tonight Show.’’
Mrs. Douglas, whose English, the show-business columnist Dorothy Kilgallen wrote in 1960, was actually far better than it appeared, capitalized handily on American parochialism of the day.
In her first appearance on Paar’s show she took the stage in traditional Japanese attire. Her heavily accented, nearly incomprehensible replies to Paar’s questions caused much hilarity among the audience.
But far from being helplessly adrift in an Anglophone sea, Mrs. Douglas was in considerable control of the situation.
Jack Douglas died in 1989.