Chōsuke Ikariya was born with the name Chōichi Ikariya ('碇矢長一', Ikariya Chōichi) on November 1, 1931 in Tokyo, Japan. During the war his family moved from their home in Sumida, Tokyo to the countryside in Shizuoka. There he took up a job as a factory worker as a young man. He also took up playing the double bass, a hint at his performer nature. He got rather good, too, performing in brass bands until he got a regular job with the "Jimmy Tokita's Mountain Playboys." It was a band that specialised in playing at G.I. bases at the time and has guitarist Takeshi Terauchi. However, during that time in his life he was one of the tallest members of the band, so he stood out. The audience often singled him out for never smiling, picking on him for amusement.
In 1962, Ikariya joined The Drifters, an aspiring pop band that featured comedy routines in its performances of rock and roll music. Members joined and quit the band over the next two years until Ikariya, still persisting, became the leader of the five-member group. The band was able to scrape by though appearing on television afterwards, with Ikariya writing most of the material for the performances.
In 1966, The Drifters opened for The Beatles at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, although apparently Ikariya didn't see it as much of an accomplishment as opposed to just another job.
In 1969, a producer from TBS offered Ikariya and his Drifters a regular spot on a weekly show. Ikariya, once again, was skeptical, having learned a lot the hard way. But this program went on to become one of the most popular shows of its time, Hachiji dayo, Zenin Shugo!. Its low-brow humour and slapstick comedy made it popular for children, much to the dismay of parents at the time. After the show was over in 1985, Ikariya virtually left the Drifters and all members went on to pursue their own goals.
It was then that Ikariya's manager suggested he try acting. Ikariya had very little faith in himself.
Ikariya, however, had won the public's adoration by then and played a variety of fatherly roles on television and in movies. His small part in the drama Odoru Daisōsasen, which later went on to inspire two movies, though, led him to what was the peak in his career - an Academy Award.
When Ikariya won a Japan Academy Award in 1999 for the film Odoru Daisōsasen / Bayside Shakedown he claimed that he felt guilty for it. He had apparently never taken his role in the police drama seriously.
Chōsuke Ikariya died on March 20, 2004 at the age of 72 of cancer of the lymph nodes. He announced his illness in June of the previous year, and left the hospital once in July afterwards for the opening of the movie Bayside Shakedown 2.In 1999, Chōsuke Ikariya won the Japanese Academy Awards of Best Supporting Actor for his performance of Heihachiro Waku in the movie Bayside Shakedown.Dreams (1990)My Sons (1991)Nagareita shichinin (1997)Bayside Shakedown (1998)Kawa no nagare no yō ni (2000)Bayside Shakedown 2 (2003)My Lover Is a Sniper: The Movie (2004)Gakkō no senseiShiroi KagePsycho DoctorDokuganryu Masamune (1987)Anata no tonari ni dare ka iru (2003)Odoru daisōsasen (1997)When the Saints Go Marching In (1998)Yomigaeru kinrō" (1999)Namida o fuite" (2000)Black Jack II (2000)Good Luck!! (2003)