Anna May Wong
American actress
Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong was an American actress, the first Chinese American movie star, and the first Asian American to become an international star. Her long and varied career spanned both silent and sound film, television, stage, and radio. Born near the Chinatown neighborhood of Los Angeles to second-generation Chinese-American parents, Wong became infatuated with the movies and began acting in films at an early age.
Biography
Anna May Wong's personal information overview.
{{personal_detail.supertitle}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
{{personal_detail.title}}
Photo Albums
Popular photos of Anna May Wong
News
News abour Anna May Wong from around the web
There's money in burial land, says expert - The Borneo Post
Google News - over 5 years
Also present were Padawan Municipal Council (PMC) chairman Lo Khere Chiang, Kuching Memorial Services' feng shui master Ricky Siaw and managing director Anna Wong. Siaw revealed that Kuching Memorial Services also had interest free in-house loans and
Article Link:
Google News article
Solon Swim Club To Host USA Summer Sectionals - Patch.com
Google News - over 5 years
... Katherine Mitchell (Wheaton College), Dana Lautenschlager (Solon High School), Anna Wong (Solon High School), Mary Motch (Hathaway Brown) and Kelsey McRill (Solon High School). Motch, at age 13, will be one of the youngest swimmers in the meet
Article Link:
Google News article
Win Anna May Wong Titles – Java Head & Tiger Bay on DVD - HeyUGuys.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
To mark the release of the Anna Wong double bill including Java Head and Tiger Bay on DVD now, Optimum Home Entertainment have been given three copies to give away! Anna May Wong (1905 – 1961) was the first Asian American movie star to become an
Article Link:
Google News article
Rotorua Stage Challenge: JPC do it again - The Daily Post
Google News - over 5 years
"We have worked so hard and we we all did such a good job. I think we really got our theme across." Judges described their performance as great and that the students "gave it their all". Anna Wong-Toi, 16, said it felt amazing to be named the winners,
Article Link:
Google News article
Berkeley Artist 'Yarnbombs' Stanford's Cantor Arts Center - Patch.com
Google News - almost 6 years
Anna Wong, a friend and fellow expert knitter, spent several hours working side by side with Streetcolor. “I think what I enjoy the most is the camaraderie to be in this community of artists,” said Wong, who is a kindergarten teacher at Jefferson
Article Link:
Google News article
Ballarat Health Services seeking buddies - Ballarat Courier
Google News - almost 6 years
BHS physiotherapist Anna Wong Shee said it was hoped to extend the program to the Base hospital's acute wards. She said typical volunteer activities included sitting with patients and doing one-to-one activities, such as playing cards, jigsaws,
Article Link:
Google News article
Lutherville Mom Attempts World Record for Changing Cloth Diapers - Patch.com
Google News - almost 6 years
Anna Wong organized the Baltimore area's contribution to the world record attempt. Anna and Chris Wong of Lutherville use cloth diapers on their 18-month-old son, Colin, and are committed environmentalists. Anna operates Baltimore's only cloth diaper
Article Link:
Google News article
温东6年班华裔男生患血癌不富裕 小学「剃头」筹款 - 加拿大家园网
Google News - almost 6 years
她称,校方向学生家长发出参加表格後反应不俗,且获得一名华裔家长Anna Wong充当「理发师」,为参加者剪发。该筹款活动已在前日在室内操场举行,墙上并挂上一幅呼吁学生支持钱同学的筹款活动和支持钱同学战胜癌魔的
Article Link:
Google News article
Vancouver students shave heads in solidarity with cancer-stricken schoolmate - Vancouver Courier
Google News - almost 6 years
Parent volunteer Anna Wong took less than five minutes to shave off 11-year-old Jacob Schoeber's hair Wednesday. Schoeber's classmates at Franklin elementary cheered as his mop of brown hair transformed into a crew cut. He was one of 15 students—14
Article Link:
Google News article
William H. Gleysteen Jr., 76, China Expert
NYTimes - about 14 years
William H. Gleysteen Jr., an expert on China who was United States ambassador to South Korea in a period of acute political turbulence there in the late 1970's, died on Dec. 6 in Washington. He was 76. The cause was acute leukemia, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, where he had worked after leaving the diplomatic service. As ambassador
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Art Slips on Thin Ice
NYTimes - about 25 years
The chainsaws were buzzing, the planers were planing away the rough spots, the measuring tapes were measuring. Finally, a week late, 35 Chinese ice sculptors were stacking and shaping their giant see-through bricks into two giant melting phoenixes. Creating a pair of birds like the one in ancient Egyptian mythology that consumed itself in fire only
Article Link:
NYTimes article
COOKING SCHOOLS: WHEN, WHERE, WHAT, HOW MUCH
NYTimes - over 32 years
A la Bonne Cocotte, 23 Eighth Avenue; 212-675-7736. Course: Techniques based on menus. French home-style cooking to regional cooking, haute cuisine and baking. Instructor: Lydie Pinoy Marshall. Cost: Four lessons, $280. Morning and evening classes. Classes begin: Oct. 2. Type: Participation. Maximum number in class: 10. Wendy Berry's Cooking
Article Link:
NYTimes article
COOKING SCHOOLS: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE
NYTimes - over 33 years
2d SUB COOKLIST-A - C6 A la Bonne Cocotte, 23 Eighth Avenue, 675-7736. Course: French home-style cooking; regional and haute cuisine; baking included. Techniques based on menus. Instructor: Lydie Pinoy Marshall. Cost: Four lessons, $270. Morning and evening classes. Classes begin: Fall sessions full; winter sessions begin Nov. 17. Type:
Article Link:
NYTimes article
THE GUIDE TO NEW YORK COOKING SCHOOLS: WHERE TO LOOK TO LEARN NEW CUISINES
NYTimes - over 34 years
The cooking schools listed on these pages were reviewed by Moira Hodgson and Bryan Miller. Judgments are based on the personality of the teacher and his or her knowledge of the subject, and the quality of the ingredients, kitchen and equipment used. Most of the classes were visited within the last two years. Alliance Fran,caise, 22 East 60th
Article Link:
NYTimes article
GOING OUT GUIDE
NYTimes - almost 35 years
TWO CHINAS We have had visits from just about everything in the arts from China, but all of a sudden photography is the big item, with two exhibitions in two different locations. Each features work by Chinese photographers representing news and other professional organizations. The first to open was ''The Eye of China,'' to be seen through June 3
Article Link:
NYTimes article
THE GUIDE TO NEW YORK COOKING SCHOOLS: WHERE TO LOOK TO LEARN WHICH CUISINE
NYTimes - over 35 years
The cooking schools on these pages were reviewed by Florence Fabricant and Moira Hodgson. This article was written by Mrs. Fabricant. DURING the last few years cooking schools around the city have been changing. An increasingly sophisticated level of student is enrolling for classes and, along with this, the quality of teaching has improved and the
Article Link:
NYTimes article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Anna May Wong
    FIFTIES
  • 1961
    Age 56
    She was scheduled to play the role of Madame Liang in the film production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song, but was unable to take the role due to failing health. On February 3, 1961, at the age of 56, Wong died of a heart attack as she slept at home in Santa Monica, two days after her final screen performance on the television show The Barbara Stanwyck Show.
    More Details Hide Details Her cremated remains were interred in her mother's grave at Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. The headstone is marked with her mother's Anglicized name on top, and the Chinese names of Anna May (on the right) and her sister Mary (on the left) along the sides. She was survived by her 3 daughters: Shila (May 31, 1927 – August 9, 1963); Wanda (February 17, 1929 – March 26, 1996); and Leah (December 2, 1931 – April 13, 2001). Wong's image and career have left a legacy. Through her films, public appearances and prominent magazine features, she helped to humanize Asian Americans to white audiences during a period of overt racism and discrimination. Asian Americans, especially the Chinese, had been viewed as perpetually foreign in U.S. society but Wong's films and public image established her as an Asian-American citizen at a time when laws discriminated against Asian immigration and citizenship. Wong's hybrid image dispelled contemporary notions that the East and West were inherently different.
  • 1960
    Age 55
    In 1960, Wong returned to film in Portrait in Black, starring Lana Turner.
    More Details Hide Details She still found herself stereotyped, with one press release explaining her long absence from films with a supposed proverb, which was claimed to have been passed down to Wong by her father: "Don't be photographed too much or you'll lose your soul", a quote that would be inserted into many of her obituaries.
    For her contribution to the film industry, Anna May Wong received a star at 1708 Vine Street on the inauguration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details She is also depicted larger-than-life as one of the four supporting pillars of the "Gateway to Hollywood" sculpture located on the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, with the actresses Dolores del Río (Hispanic American), Dorothy Dandridge (African American) and Mae West.
  • 1956
    Age 51
    In 1956, Wong hosted one of the first U.S. documentaries on China narrated entirely by a Chinese American.
    More Details Hide Details Broadcast on the ABC travel series Bold Journey, the program consisted of film footage from her 1936 trip to China. Wong also did guest spots on television series such as Adventures in Paradise, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp.
  • FORTIES
  • 1953
    Age 48
    In late 1953 she suffered an internal hemorrhage, which her brother attributed to the onset of menopause, her continued heavy drinking, and financial worries.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1951
    Age 46
    From August 27 to November 21, 1951, Wong starred in a detective series that was written specifically for her, the DuMont Television Network series The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, in which she played the title role which used her birth name.
    More Details Hide Details Wong's character was a dealer in Chinese art whose career involved her in detective work and international intrigue. The ten half-hour episodes aired during prime time, from 9:00 to 9:30 p.m. Although there were plans for a second season, DuMont canceled the show in 1952. No copies of the show or its scripts are known to exist. After the completion of the series, Wong's health began to deteriorate.
  • 1949
    Age 44
    In 1949, Wong's father died in Los Angeles at the age of 91.
    More Details Hide Details After a six-year absence, Wong returned to film the same year with a small role in a B movie called Impact.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1939
    Age 34
    Being sick of the negative typecasting that had enveloped her throughout her American career, Anna May Wong visited Australia for over 3 months in 1939.
    More Details Hide Details There she was the star attraction in a vaudeville show titled 'Highlights from Hollywood' at the Tivoli Theatre in Melbourne. Wong starred in Lady from Chungking (1942) and Bombs over Burma (1942), both anti-Japanese propaganda made by the poverty row studio Producers Releasing Corporation. She donated her salary for both films to United China Relief. The Lady from Chungking differed from the usual Hollywood war film in that the Chinese were portrayed as heroes rather than as victims rescued by Americans. Even after American characters are captured by the Japanese, the primary goal of the heroes is not to free the Americans, but to prevent the Japanese from entering the city of Chongqing (Chungking). Also, in an interesting twist, the Chinese characters are portrayed by Chinese-American actors, while the Japanese villains – normally played by Chinese-American actors – are acted by European Americans. The film ends with Wong making a speech for the birth of a "new China". The Hollywood Reporter and Variety both gave Wong's performance in The Lady from Chungking positive reviews, but commented negatively on the film's plot.
    Between 1939 and 1942, she made few films, instead engaging in events and appearances in support of the Chinese struggle against Japan.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1938
    Age 33
    In 1938, having auctioned off her movie costumes and donated the money to Chinese aid, the Chinese Benevolent Association of California honored Wong for her work in support of Chinese refugees.
    More Details Hide Details The proceeds from the preface that she wrote in 1942 to a cookbook titled New Chinese Recipes, one of the first Chinese cookbooks, were also dedicated to United China Relief.
  • 1937
    Age 32
    In October 1937, the press carried rumors that Wong had plans to marry her male co-star in this film, childhood friend and Korean-American actor Philip Ahn.
    More Details Hide Details Wong replied, "It would be like marrying my brother." Bosley Crowther was not so kind to Dangerous to Know (1938), which he called a "second-rate melodrama, hardly worthy of the talents of its generally capable cast". In King of Chinatown Wong played a surgeon who sacrifices a high-paying promotion in order to devote her energies to helping the Chinese fight the Japanese invasion. The New York Times Frank Nugent gave the film a negative review. Though he commented positively on its advocacy of the Chinese in their fight against Japan, he wrote, " Paramount should have spared us and its cast... the necessity of being bothered with such folderol". Paramount also employed Wong as a tutor to other actors, such as Dorothy Lamour in her role as a Eurasian in Disputed Passage. Wong performed on radio several times, including a 1939 role as "Peony" in Pearl Buck's The Patriot on Orson Welles' The Campbell Playhouse. Wong's cabaret act, which included songs in Cantonese, French, English, German, Danish, Swedish, and other languages, took her from the U.S. to Europe and Australia through the 1930s and 1940s.
  • 1936
    Age 31
    Embarking in January 1936, she chronicled her experiences in a series of articles printed in U.S. newspapers such as the New York Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Los Angeles Times, and Photoplay.
    More Details Hide Details In a stopover in Tokyo on the way to Shanghai, local reporters, ever curious about her romantic life, asked if she had marriage plans, to which Wong replied, "No, I am wedded to my art." The following day, however, Japanese newspapers reported that Wong was married to a wealthy Cantonese man named Art. During her travels in China, Wong continued to be strongly criticized by the Nationalist government and the film community. She had difficulty communicating in many areas of China because she was raised with the Taishan dialect rather than Mandarin. She later commented that some of the varieties of Chinese sounded "as strange to me as Gaelic. I thus had the strange experience of talking to my own people through an interpreter." The toll of international celebrity on Wong's personal life manifested itself in bouts of depression and sudden anger, as well as excessive smoking and drinking. Feeling irritable when she disembarked in Hong Kong, Wong was uncharacteristically rude to the awaiting crowd, which then quickly turned hostile. One person shouted: "Down with Huang Liu Tsong – the stooge that disgraces China. Don't let her go ashore." Wong began crying and a stampede ensued. After she left for a short trip to the Philippines, the situation cooled and Wong joined her family in Hong Kong. With her father and her siblings, Wong visited his family and his first wife at the family's ancestral home near Taishan.
  • 1935
    Age 30
    Wong returned to the U.S. in June 1935 with the goal of obtaining the role of O-lan, the lead female character in MGM's film version of The Good Earth.
    More Details Hide Details Since its publication in 1931, Wong had made known her desire to play O-lan in a film version of the book; and as early as 1933, Los Angeles newspapers were touting Wong as the best choice for the part. Nevertheless, the studio apparently never seriously considered Wong for the role because Paul Muni, an actor of European descent, was to play O-lan's husband, Wang Lung. The Chinese government also advised the studio against casting Wong in the role. The Chinese advisor to MGM commented: "whenever she appears in a movie, the newspapers print her picture with the caption 'Anna May again loses face for China' ". According to Wong, she was instead offered the part of Lotus, a deceitful song girl who helps to destroy the family and seduces the family's oldest son. Wong refused the role, telling MGM head of production Irving Thalberg, "If you let me play O-lan, I will be very glad. But you're asking me – with Chinese blood – to do the only unsympathetic role in the picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters." The role Wong hoped for went to Luise Rainer, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Wong's sister, Mary Liu Heung Wong, appeared in the film in the role of the Little Bride. MGM's refusal to consider Wong for this most high-profile of Chinese characters in U.S. film is remembered today as "one of the most notorious cases of casting discrimination in the 1930s".
    She also appeared in the King George Silver Jubilee program in 1935.
    More Details Hide Details Her film Java Head (1934), though generally considered a minor effort, was the only film in which Wong kissed the lead male character, her white husband in the film. Wong's biographer, Graham Russell Hodges, commented that this may be why the film remained one of Wong's personal favorites. While in London, Wong met Mei Lanfang, one of the most famous stars of the Beijing Opera. She had long been interested in Chinese opera and Mei offered to instruct Wong if she ever visited China. In the 1930s, the popularity of Pearl Buck's novels, especially The Good Earth, as well as growing American sympathy for China in its struggles with Japanese Imperialism, opened up opportunities for more positive Chinese roles in U.S. films.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1934
    Age 29
    In both America and Europe, Wong had been seen as a fashion icon for over a decade. In 1934, the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York voted her "The World's best-dressed woman" and in 1938 Look magazine named her "The World's most beautiful Chinese girl".
    More Details Hide Details After her success in Europe and prominent role in Shanghai Express, Wong's Hollywood career returned to its old pattern. Because of the Hays Code's anti-miscegenation rules, she was passed over for the leading female role in The Son-Daughter in favor of Helen Hayes. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer deemed her "too Chinese to play a Chinese" in the film, and the Hays Office would not have allowed her to perform romantic scenes since the film's male lead, Ramón Novarro, was not Asian. Wong was scheduled to play the role of a mistress to a corrupt Chinese general in Frank Capra's The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933), but the role went instead to Toshia Mori. Again disappointed with Hollywood, Wong returned to Britain, where she stayed for nearly three years. In addition to appearing in four films she toured Scotland and Ireland as part of a vaudeville show.
  • 1932
    Age 27
    The most virulent criticism came from the Nationalist government, but China's intellectuals and liberals were not always so opposed to Wong, as demonstrated when Peking University awarded the actress an honorary doctorate in 1932.
    More Details Hide Details Contemporary sources reported that this was probably the only time that an actor had been so honored.
  • 1931
    Age 26
    Wong began using her newfound celebrity to make political statements: late in 1931, for example, she wrote a harsh criticism of the Mukden Incident and Japan's subsequent invasion of Manchuria.
    More Details Hide Details She also became more outspoken in her advocacy for Chinese American causes and for better film roles. In a 1933 interview for Film Weekly entitled "I Protest", Wong criticized the negative stereotyping in Daughter of the Dragon, saying, "Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain – murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?" Wong appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich as a self-sacrificing courtesan in Sternberg's Shanghai Express. Her sexually charged scenes with Dietrich have been noted by many commentators and fed rumors about the relationship between the two stars. Though contemporary reviews focused on Dietrich's acting and Sternberg's direction, film historians today judge that Wong's performance upstaged that of Dietrich.
  • 1930
    Age 25
    Following her return to Hollywood in 1930, Wong repeatedly turned to the stage and cabaret for a creative outlet. In November 1930, Anna May's mother was run over and killed by an automobile in front of the Figueroa Street house.
    More Details Hide Details The family remained at the house until 1934, when Wong's father returned to his hometown in China with Anna May's younger brothers and sister. Anna May had been paying for the education of her younger siblings, who put their education to work after they relocated to China. Before the family left, Wong's father wrote a brief article for Xinning, a magazine for overseas Taishanese, in which he expressed his pride in his famous daughter. With the promise of appearing in a Josef von Sternberg film, Wong accepted another stereotypical role – the title character of Fu Manchu's vengeful daughter in Daughter of the Dragon (1931). This was the last stereotypically "evil Chinese" role Wong played, and also her one starring appearance alongside the only other well-known Asian actor of the era, Sessue Hayakawa. Though she was given the starring role, this status was not reflected in her paycheck: she was paid $6,000, while Hayakawa received $10,000 and Warner Oland, who is only in the film for 23 minutes, was paid $12,000.
    Ironically, Wong caught their eye and she was offered a contract with Paramount Studios in 1930.
    More Details Hide Details Enticed by the promise of lead roles and top billing, she returned to the United States. The prestige and training she had gained during her years in Europe led to a starring role on Broadway in On the Spot, a drama that ran for 167 performances and which she would later film as Dangerous to Know. When the play's director wanted Wong to use stereotypical Japanese mannerisms, derived from Madame Butterfly, in her performance of a Chinese character, Wong refused. She instead used her knowledge of Chinese style and gestures to imbue the character with a greater degree of authenticity.
  • 1929
    Age 24
    Wong made her last silent film, Piccadilly, in 1929, the first of five English films in which she had a starring role.
    More Details Hide Details The film caused a sensation in the UK. Gilda Gray was the top-billed actress, but Variety commented that Wong "outshines the star" and that "from the moment Miss Wong dances in the kitchen's rear, she steals 'Piccadilly' from Miss Gray." Though the film presented Wong in her most sensual role in a British film, once again she was not permitted to kiss her Caucasian love interest and a controversial planned scene involving a kiss was cut before the film was released. Forgotten for decades after its release, Piccadilly was later restored by the British Film Institute. Time magazine's Richard Corliss calls Piccadilly Wong's best film, and The Guardian reports that the rediscovery of this film and Wong's performance in it has been responsible for a restoration of the actress' reputation. While in London, Wong was romantically linked with writer and broadcasting executive Eric Maschwitz, who wrote the lyrics to These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) as an evocation of his longing for her after they parted. Wong's first talkie was The Flame of Love (1930), which she recorded in French, English and German. Though Wong's performance – particularly her handling of the three languages – was lauded, all three versions of the film received negative reviews.
  • 1928
    Age 23
    Tired of being both typecast and being passed over for lead Asian character roles in favor of non-Asian actresses, Wong left Hollywood in 1928 for Europe.
    More Details Hide Details Interviewed by Doris Mackie for Film Weekly in 1933, Wong complained about her Hollywood roles: "I was so tired of the parts I had to play." She commented: "There seems little for me in Hollywood, because, rather than real Chinese, producers prefer Hungarians, Mexicans, American Indians for Chinese roles." In Europe, Wong became a sensation, starring in notable films such as Schmutziges Geld (aka Song and Show Life, 1928) and Großstadtschmetterling (Pavement Butterfly). Of the German critics' response to Song, The New York Times reported that Wong was "acclaimed not only as an actress of transcendent talent but as a great beauty". The article noted that Germans passed over Wong's American background: "Berlin critics, who were unanimous in praise of both the star and the production, neglect to mention that Anna May is of American birth. They mention only her Chinese origins." In Vienna, she played the title role in the operetta Tschun Tschi in fluent German. An Austrian critic wrote, "Fräulein Wong had the audience perfectly in her power and the unobtrusive tragedy of her acting was deeply moving, carrying off the difficult German-speaking part very successfully."
  • 1926
    Age 21
    In 1926, Wong put the first rivet into the structure of Grauman's Chinese Theatre when she joined Norma Talmadge for its groundbreaking ceremony, although she was not invited to leave her hand- and foot-prints in cement.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year Wong starred in The Silk Bouquet. Re-titled The Dragon Horse in 1927, the film was one of the first U.S. films to be produced with Chinese backing, provided by San Francisco's Chinese Six Companies. The story was set in China during the Ming Dynasty and featured Asian actors playing the Asian roles. Wong continued to be assigned supporting roles. Hollywood's Asian female characters tended toward two stereotypical poles: the naïve and self-sacrificing "Butterfly" and the sly and deceitful "Dragon Lady". In Old San Francisco (1927), directed by Alan Crosland for Warner Brothers, Wong played a "Dragon Lady", a gangster's daughter. In Mr. Wu (1927) she played a supporting role as increasing censorship against mixed race onscreen couples cost her the lead. In The Crimson City, released the following year, this happened again.
  • 1925
    Age 20
    In early 1925 she joined a group of serial stars on a tour of the vaudeville circuits; when the tour proved to be a failure, Wong and the rest of the group returned to Hollywood.
    More Details Hide Details
  • TEENAGE
  • 1924
    Age 19
    Wong continued to be offered exotic supporting roles, playing indigenous native girls in two 1924 films.
    More Details Hide Details Filmed on location in the Territory of Alaska she portrayed an Eskimo in The Alaskan. She returned to Los Angeles to perform the part of Princess Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. Both films were shot by cinematographer James Wong Howe but Peter Pan was more successful; the hit of the Christmas season. The next year, Wong was singled out for critical praise in a manipulative Oriental vamp role in the film Forty Winks. Despite such favorable reviews, she became increasingly disappointed with her casting and began to seek other roads to success.
    In March 1924, planning to make films about Chinese myths, she signed a deal creating Anna May Wong Productions; when her business partner was found to be engaging in dishonest practices, Wong brought a lawsuit against him and the company was dissolved.
    More Details Hide Details It soon became evident that Wong's career would continue to be limited by American anti-miscegenation laws, which prevented her from sharing an on-screen kiss with any person of another race, even if the character was Asian, but being portrayed by a white actor. The only leading Asian man in U.S. films in the silent era was Sessue Hayakawa. Unless Asian leading men could be found, Wong could not be a leading lady.
  • 1923
    Age 18
    Still optimistic about a film career, in 1923 Wong said: "Pictures are fine and I'm getting along all right, but it's not so bad to have the laundry back of you, so you can wait and take good parts and be independent when you're climbing."
    More Details Hide Details At the age of 19, Anna May Wong was cast in a supporting role as a scheming Mongol slave in the Douglas Fairbanks picture The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Playing a stereotypical "Dragon Lady" role, her brief appearances on-screen caught the attention of audiences and critics alike. The film grossed more than $2 million and helped introduce Wong to the public. Around this time, Wong had an affair with director Tod Browning. It was a romance largely known of at the time: it was an interracial relationship and Wong was underage. After this second prominent role, Wong moved out of the family home into her own apartment. Conscious that Americans viewed her as "foreign born" even though she was born and raised in California, Wong began cultivating a flapper image.
  • 1921
    Age 16
    In 1921, Wong received her first screen credit for Bits of Life, the first anthology film, in which she played the wife of Lon Chaney's character, Toy Ling, in a segment entitled "Hop".
    More Details Hide Details She later recalled it fondly as the only time she played the role of a mother; her appearance earned her a cover photo in the British magazine Picture Show. At the age of 17 she played her first leading role, in the early Metro two-color Technicolor movie The Toll of the Sea. Written by Frances Marion, the story was based loosely on Madama Butterfly. Variety magazine singled Wong out for praise, noting her "extraordinarily fine" acting. The New York Times commented, "Miss Wong stirs in the spectator all the sympathy her part calls for and she never repels one by an excess of theatrical 'feeling'. She has a difficult role, a role that is botched nine times out of ten, but hers is the tenth performance. Completely unconscious of the camera, with a fine sense of proportion and remarkable pantomimic accuracy... She should be seen again and often on the screen."
    Finding it difficult to keep up with both her schoolwork and her passion, she dropped out of Los Angeles High School in 1921 to pursue a full-time acting career.
    More Details Hide Details Reflecting on her decision, Wong told Motion Picture Magazine in 1931: "I was so young when I began that I knew I still had youth if I failed, so I determined to give myself 10 years to succeed as an actress."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1905
    Age 0
    Anna May Wong was born Wong Liu Tsong (meaning "yellow willow frost" respectively, though "yellow" being her family name can be considered functionless here semantically) on January 3, 1905, on Flower Street in Los Angeles, one block north of Chinatown, in an integrated community of Chinese, Irish, German and Japanese residents.
    More Details Hide Details She was the second of seven children born to Wong Sam Sing, owner of the Sam Kee Laundry in Los Angeles, and his second wife Lee Gon Toy. Anna May Wong's parents were second-generation Chinese Americans; her maternal and paternal grandparents had resided in the U.S. since at least 1855. Her paternal grandfather, A Wong Wong, was a merchant who owned two stores in Michigan Hills, a gold-mining area in Placer County. He had come from Chang On, a village near Taishan, Guangdong Province, China in 1853. Anna May's father spent his youth traveling between the U.S. and China, where he married his first wife and fathered a son in 1890. He returned to the U.S. in the late 1890s and in 1901, while continuing to support his family in China, he married a second wife, Anna May's mother. Anna May's older sister Lew Ying (Lulu) was born in late 1902, and Anna May was born in 1905, followed by five more children.
Original Authors of this text are noted here.
All data offered is derived from public sources. Spokeo does not verify or evaluate each piece of data, and makes no warranties or guarantees about any of the information offered. Spokeo does not possess or have access to secure or private financial information. Spokeo is not a consumer reporting agency and does not offer consumer reports. None of the information offered by Spokeo is to be considered for purposes of determining any entity or person's eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing, or for any other purposes covered under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)