TOKYO (AP) — Precisely in keeping with her zeal for privacy, news of actress Setsuko Hara's death on Sept. 5 was kept quiet until recently. The star of director Yasujiro Ozu's "Tokyo Story" and many other Japanese classics was 95.
Japanese fans laid flowers and other memorials outside Hara's former studio after relatives disclosed news of her death last week, prompting an outpouring of affection for the reclusive actress dubbed the "eternal virgin."
Hara's poise and beauty endeared her to fans who viewed her as a role model for modern Japanese women in the years after the country's defeat in World War II.
She starred in many other Ozu films, such as "Early Summer" and "Late Spring." Hara withdrew from public life after she retired at age 42, spending the next 53 years in the quiet seaside city of Kamakura, near her birthplace, Yokohama.
Her family told media that Hara had not wanted a fuss, so they kept quiet for more than two months after her death.
Shunning public appearances and interviews, she chose to regain her private life after her last film, in the early 1960s. Hara's early retirement meant her public image remained forever youthful.
Though she made dozens of films before beginning to work with Ozu, one of Japan's most revered directors, Hara is best remembered for his movies, including "Late Spring" and "Early Summer." She also appeared in Akira Kurosawa's interpretation of Dostoevsky's "The Idiot" and in his "No Regrets for Our Youth."
Hara was born Masae Aida on June 17, 1920.