Veteran Japanese comic Ken Shimura, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus last week, has died at the age of 70. Not just him even, Joe Diffie, a Grammy award-winning country music singer who had several chart-topping hits in the 1990s, died at the age of 61. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor was hospitalized in Tokyo on March 20 after developing a fever and being diagnosed with severe pneumonia. Diffie's death was announced on his Facebook page, which said he died on Sunday "from complications of coronavirus."
Shimura tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23. The condition of Shimura, best known for Japanese variety show "Shimura Ken no Bakatono-sama", was said not to be critical. A household name in Japan since the 1970s, Shimura was the first prominent entertainment world figure in Japan to test positive for the virus. The actor was set to star in his first feature film "God of Cinema", directed by Yoji Yamada. The film, which marks the 100th year anniversary of studio Shochiku, has been put on hold indefinitely.
Diffie's death came just two days after he had announced that he had tested positive for the virus and was receiving medical care. "My family and I are asking for privacy at this time," he said. "We want to remind the public and all my fans to be vigilant, cautious and careful during this pandemic."
Shimura grew up in the west Tokyo neighbourhood of Higashimurayama and he started his career in showbiz when he joined the Japanese rock band and comedy group The Drifters, famous for opening for The Beatles during their early tours of Japan. He shot to fame with the group's prime time comedy show "Hachijidayo Zeninshugo!" ("It's 8 o'clock, assemble everyone!"), where he developed his signature brand of slapstick caricature, wacky bits and deadpan delivery.
Diffie, who was from Oklahoma, had several hit songs during the 1990s including "Pickup Man," "Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die)" and "John Deere Green." His first album, "A Thousand Winding Roads," was released in 1990 and including his hit song "Home."