Nancy Kwan

Born May 19, 1939

Nancy "Ka Shen" Kwan is a Hong Kong-born Eurasian-American actress, who played a pivotal role in the acceptance of actors of Asian ancestry in major Hollywood film roles. Widely praised for her beauty, Kwan was considered a sex symbol in the 1960s.

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Nancy Kwan.


1939 Birth Born in Hong Kong on May 19, 1939, and growing up in Kowloon Tong, she is the daughter of Kwan Wing Hong, a Cantonese architect, and Marquita Scott, a Caucasian model of English and Scottish ancestry. … Read More


1958 19 Years Old …  Paramount favored the eminent France Nuyen, who had been widely praised for her performance in the 1958 film South Pacific. … Read More


1959 20 Years Old In 1959, one month after Nuyen was selected for the film role and while Kwan was touring in Toronto, Stark told her to screen test again for the film. … Read More
On February 15, 1960, she began filming the movie in London with co-star William Holden. … Read More
1961 22 Years Old In 1961, she starred in Flower Drum Song in a related role. … Read More
After starring in The World of Suzie Wong and Flower Drum Song, Kwan experienced a meteoric rise to celebrity. Scholar Jennifer Leah Chan of New York University chronicled the media attention Kwan received after starring in two Hollywood films, writing that Kwan's fame peaked in 1962.
1963 24 Years Old In 1963, Kwan starred as the title character of Tamahine. … Read More
1964 25 Years Old In the 1964 Fate Is the Hunter, her seventh film, Kwan played an ichnologist. … Read More
1968 29 Years Old Kwan divorced Peter Pock in June 1968.


1970 31 Years Old Nancy Kwan married David Giler (a Hollywood scriptwriter) in July 1970 in a civil ceremony in Carson City, Nevada. … Read More
1973 34 Years Old She did not stop her work, starring as Dr. Sue in the 1973 film Wonder Women. … Read More


1979 40 Years Old In 1979, the two returned to the United States because Kwan wanted him to finish his schooling there. … Read More
1987 48 Years Old In 1987, Nancy Kwan co-owned the dim sum restaurant Joss. … Read More


In 1993, Kwan played Gussie Yang, a "tough-talking, soft-hearted Hong Kong restaurateur", in the fictional Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. … Read More
Kwan said in a 1994 interview with the South China Morning Post that even decades after her film debut and despite her having done over 50 films thence, viewers continued to send numerous letters to her about the film.
1996 57 Years Old In 1996 when he was 33, Kwan's son, Bernie, died after contracting AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid. … Read More


2006 67 Years Old 1 More Event
On March 17, 2006, cheongsam-wearing Kwan and her husband, Norbert Meisel, attended the debut performance of Hong Kong Ballet's depiction of Suzie Wong at Sha Tin Town Hall. … Read More
2007 68 Years Old Kwan appeared in Arthur Wong's 2007 documentary Hollywood Chinese, where other Chinese dignitaries and she discussed the past accomplishments and the impending plight of Chinese people in the film industry. … Read More
2008 69 Years Old Kwan wrote an introduction for the 2008 book For Goodness Sake: A Novel of Afterlife of Suzie Wong written by American author James Clapp using the nom de plume Sebastian Gerard. … Read More
2011 72 Years Old 1 More Event
In 2011, she recorded an audiobook for the 1989 memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts. … Read More
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