Monday, May 15, 2023

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong was born on January 3, 1905, and died on February 3, 1961. She was considered the first Chinese American to star in Hollywood. She also was the first Chinese American actress to be recognized internationally. She acted in silent film, sound film, television, radio, and on stage. In 1934, she was voted the world’s best-dressed woman by the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York. During the 1920s and 1930s, she was seen as one of the top fashion icons.

In 1928, Wong went to Europe to star in plays and films because Hollywood used her only in stereotypical supporting roles. In 1935, MGM refused to consider her for the leading role in Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth. It may have been due to the Hays Code anti-miscegenation rules that required the wife of a white actor be played by a white actress. But the Code insisted that only the sexual relationship between white and black races was forbidden and didn’t pertain to other interracial marriages. She spent the next year traveling around China, visiting her family’s village, studying the culture, and filming her experience. In the 1930s, she played parts that showed Chinese and Chinese Americans in a more positive light. During WWII, she spent a lot of time and money helping the Chinese fight against Japan. Wong finally returned to television in the 1950s. Wong made history in 1951 with her US TV show The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong starring an Asian-American series lead. In 1961, she died of a heart attack.

What other Asian American actors have made an impact on the US culture?  Please share. 

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