From one episode of the crazy cop series "Seibu Keisatsu" (西部警察) I viewed, I must say that it drastically improved how I saw Tetsuya Watari (渡哲也). I thought he was amazingly cool as the tough-as-nails Detective Chief, Keisuke Daimon (大門圭介), with that scowl, sharp eyes behind a pair of aviator shades and commanding voice. And did he look good in a three-piece suit (as do the other Ishihara Gundan fellows, I realise)! To think that I used to just see him as Yujiro Ishihara's (石原裕次郎) thuggy sidekick and constantly got him confused with another tough guy, the late Ken Takakura (高倉健) - both had crew cuts and have a similar stoic expression on their faces.
Just like Ishihara, Watari had a singing career aside from his acting. He debuted as a singer in 1965, a year after he began acting, and his most notable single was probably "Kuchinashi no Hana" (it means Jasmine flower, I think), a slow and gentle Mood Kayo tune with a slight Latin flavour to it. Quite the contrast to the rough-and-tumble characters he used to play, if you ask me. I first heard it via the same video that introduced me to Hiroshi Tachi's (舘ひろし) "Nakanaide" (泣かないで), which started with Ishihara having a go at Watari's hit. I guess that was one of the reasons that got me to like the song, besides its catchy-ness. And yes, I did visit that clip many, many times (for... reasons...) so I was bound to get hooked on to it. Watari doesn't have the most pleasant of singing voices as heard later in the clip, especially when compared to Yujiro's, but it's not particularly bad either so I got used to the original - he sounds exactly like how I envision a gruff salary man tackling some enka/Mood Kayo at a karaoke bar after a hard day at work.
"Kuchinashi no Hana" was released in August 1973 and peaked at 4th place on the Oricon charts. It sold about 1.5 million copies, allowing Watari to perform on the Kohaku for the first time in the following year. He then sang "Kuchinashi no Hana" on the annual year-end competition once more in 1993. Writing the lyrics was Kaoru Mizuki (水木かおる), who had also written a number of Watari's songs, and the music was done by the renowned composer Minoru Endo (遠藤実).
I know "Seibu Keisatsu" is supposed to be a relatively serious police show, but I couldn't help but snicker as I watched its first episode. I mean, the characters were cool albeit a little over the top in their own ways, but a tank chugging through Ginza and so many things going "boom" and going up in flames? Now that was hilarious.
To end off, here's a fun fact: Watari and Ishihara share the same birthday, just that they're 7 years apart.