In the 1950s Yoshiko established her acting career as Shirley Yamaguchi in Hollywood and on Broadway in the U.S., and appeared in several films made in Hong Kong. She toured the US in a stage production of The King and I that bombed. The movies fared a little better.
In 1952 she appeared in King Vidor’s Japanese War Bride. The film tells the story of a wounded Korean War veteran who returns to his California home with his Japanese wife. The pair are subjected to plenty of good old American racism and bigotry from their neighbours and family. At one point the husband cries out, “Don't call my wife a geisha girl...” – well the times were different back then! Press reaction was apparently mixed.
Her most successful Hollywood outing was probably House of Bamboo, directed by Samuel Fuller in 1955 – very noir – and starring Robert Ryan, Robert Stack and DeForest Kelley (later to Bones on Star Trek). Though Hollywood fare it was set in Tokyo. The movie got some good reviews in America but not in Japan, where the press felt Yamaguchi was overly exoticised.
She then made Navy Wife in 1956 which unfortunately didn’t set the world alight. And that was pretty much it. Yamaguchi was popular with some, praised for her looks and seems to have enjoyed herself in Hollywood striking up friendships with the likes of Chaplin and Yul Brunner. In 1958 she retired from the movies and acting.