After unsuccessful auditions for The Hidden Fortress and the unmade Toho film Uminari, Wakabayashi made her debut in the 1958 Ishiro Honda film Song for a Bride. As a Toho contract player, she was frequently cast alongside Mie Hama, including in King Kong vs. Godzilla. Her character's boyish disguise in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was based on her own preferred style. Tetsuro Tamba recommended her and Hama for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967). Neither actress knew any English, but Wakabayashi picked it up much faster. As a result, she swapped roles with Hama to play the character with more dialogue, Japanese spy Aki. She retired from acting prematurely due to injuries she sustained on the job. Her final role was in an episode of the 1971-72 series Shirley's World.
- King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) as Tamiye
- Dogora (1964) as Hamako, diamond thief
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) as Princess Maas Doulina Salno, monarch of Selgina
- Ultra Q (TV 1966) as Kyoko [episode 9]
- Ultraman (TV 1966-67) as Setsuko Hamaguchi [episode 5]
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) [2001 Toho DVD]
- "The Japanese Greta Garbo's? In Search of Mie Hama and Akiko Wakabayashi" by Luke G. Williams for 007 MAGAZINE
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