Jack Soo ’34

Jack Soo (born Goro Suzuki), Class of 1934, was the first Asian American to star in a regular television series as Detective Yemana in the 1970s hit comedy television show Barney Miller.

Born in Oakland, Suzuki was one of many Japanese-American students or alumni interned Tanforan and Topaz during World War II. After the war ended, he began a career in entertainment and changed his name to Jack Soo.

In 1958, he was cast in the Broadway hit “Flower Drum Song.” Throughout the 1960s Soo appeared on television (Valentine’s Day, Hawaii 5-0, M*A*S*H) and film (The Green Berets, Thoroughly Modern Millie). He joined the cast of Barney Miller in 1975, playing the detective whose horrific coffee the rest of the precinct had to drink.

A documentary film about his life, titled ‘You Don’t Know Jack: The Jack Soo Story’, was produced in 2009. Here is his final scene in Barney Miller before he passed away in January of 1979: