Nancy Kwan
American actress
Nancy Kwan
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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Sassoon brings hair styling exhibition to downtown L.A. Art Walk
LATimes - over 4 years
Those who doubt that hair styling is an art may want to check out a new offering at the monthly Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.  Jeremy Davies-Barbala, senior creative director for Sassoon Salon in Beverly Hills, is orchestrating the premiere of Sassoon at the Art Walk, designed to highlight hair style as a creative statement. Essentially, models in the windows of the Robert Reynolds Gallery will present a collection of artistic styles, focused on the most creative aspects of color and cuts. The presentation will occur in 20-minute increments from 8:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. at the gallery, 408 S. Spring St.  I suspect the styles will go beyond the now-classic look the late Vidal Sassoon gave actress Nancy Kwan, shown here, in his heyday -- but even this one was considered ground-breaking in its time for the structure and architectural quality for which Sassoon became famous. The downtown L.A. Art Walk happens on the second Thursday of each month, mostly in and around ...
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LATimes article
Obama Unstandard Time
Asian Week - over 4 years
Snafus as California Obama for America campaign press team emailed out advisories of teleconference dated last week for June 15 and May 15 at 12:15 pm when it was scheduled 12:30 pm with reactions from leading APA Bay Area politicians…LATINOS & ASIANS LOOK ALIKE:  On May 10, Nevada press rep sent out advisory urging media to visit Obama’s Asian American Pacific Islander site ( as “additional information about the Latinos for Obama”…On June 14, reported that Latino Republican National Committee site ( used stock photos of Asian faces…. Abu-Ghraib POW scandal investigator and Major General Tony Taguba supports efforts to preserve Filipino Veterans' World War Two Memorial (Wikipedia) ABU-GHRAIB GENERAL OPPOSES SEIZURE OF VET SPACE: Sounds like the disgraceful 1946 US Rescission Act denying benefits to 200,000 Filipino American war vets. Veterans War Memorial Commissioner Rudy Asercion has recruited more than 250 petitioners in ...
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Asian Week article
Hairstyling Pioneer Vidal Sassoon Dies at 84
WNYC - Culture - almost 5 years
Hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, who undid the beehive with his wash-and-wear cuts and went on to become an international name in hair care, died Wednesday. He was 84. Sassoon died at his home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, police spokesman Kevin Maiberger said. Officers were summoned to the home at about 10:30 a.m., where they found Sassoon dead with his family. They determined that he died of natural causes, and there will be no further police investigation, Maiberger said. When Sassoon picked up his shears in the 1950s, styled hair was typically curled, teased, piled high and shellacked into place. Then came the 1960s, and Sassoon's creative cuts, which required little styling and fell into place perfectly every time, fit right in with the fledgling women's liberation movement. "My idea was to cut shape into the hair, to use it like fabric and take away everything that was superfluous," Sassoon said in 1993 in the Los Angeles Times, which first reported his deat ...
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WNYC - Culture article
Merced College Matters: Education is a lifelong adventure - Sacramento Bee
Google News - over 5 years
The 50-minute film, narrated by actress Nancy Kwan, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with director Elaine Mae Woo. The film has received international acclaim for its depth of research and for the rare glimpse into one of Hollywood's
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Google News article
Film to look at life, career of Asian-American actress - Middle East North Africa Financial Network
Google News - over 5 years
The 50-minute film, narrated by actress Nancy Kwan, will be followed by a question-and-answer session with director Elaine Mae Woo. The film has received international acclaim for its depth of research and for the rare glimpse into one of Hollywood's
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Google News article
Pencil This In: Get Thee to the A+D Museum - Without a Car - LAist
Google News - over 5 years
Nancy Kwan of the 1961 Flower Drum Song will appear at the Egyptian Theater; LACMA Photographic Arts Council members hold an exhibit of some items from their private collections at the Stephen Cohen Gallery; there's a free Sunset Concert Series at the
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Google News article
Jackie O's Secret Tapes Reveal A Shockingly Salacious Secret - The Spoof (satire)
Google News - over 5 years
She also enjoyed pretending to be Nancy Kwan in The World of Suzie Wong and she especially loved getting to recite the lines spoken by Sophia Loren in the movie The Key. And needless to say Bill Holden loved every single second of their "Role" playing
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Google News article
關家倩 回顧50年從影路 - 世界日報
Google News - over 5 years
美國電影學院(American Cinematheque)11日晚7時半將在好萊塢埃及劇院(Egyptian Theatre)放映老牌華裔女星關家倩(Nancy Kwan)的經典作品「花鼓歌」(Flower Drum Song)及表述她演藝生涯的紀錄片「家倩的人生之旅」(To Whom It May Concern Ka Shen's Journey),關
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Google News article
Double Feature! To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen's Journey and World of Suzie Wong - US-China Institute
Google News - over 5 years
This documentary follows actress Nancy Kwan from her birth in Hong Kong to her big screen debut in 1960s. Double Feature! TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: KA SHENS JOURNEY, 2010, Locomotive Distribution, 104 min. Dir. Brian Jamieson
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Google News article
Things to do this weekend - Daily Breeze
Google News - over 5 years
Little Fish Theatre presents a love story that spans three decades, between a salesman and his boss's wife, 8 tonight and Saturday, 777 Centre St., San Pedro; tickets $25/$22; 310-512-6030, Nancy Kwan starred in 1960's "The World of Suzie Wong" and
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Google News article
Le monde de Suzie Wong : réédition du célèbre roman de Richard Mason - Hong-Kong-Cityguide
Google News - over 5 years
Richard Mason (1919-1997) est un écrivain britannique peu connu en France, mais il a été célèbre dans les pays anglophones. Plusieurs de ses livres ont été adaptés au cinéma dont ce roman, avec William Holden et Nancy Kwan dans les rôles principaux
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Google News article
Nancy Kwan in Person & Hopefully Hou in 35mm at Asian Film Festival - San Diego Reader (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
This year SDAFF will honor Nancy Kwan, the renowned Eurasian actress who helped to shatter the Hollywood race barrier with her performance in The World of Suzie Wong (1960). At the time, featured roles for Asians in American films were still largely
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Google News article
发型大师沙宣惊传罹患血癌两年 - 大纪元
Google News - over 5 years
1960年代,沙宣为进军美国好莱坞的女星香港关南施(Nancy Kwan)设计齐短发型“鲍伯头”(the bob)而闻名,其后更打造市值一亿英镑的全球性发廊及美发产品王国。沙宣于2009年获颁大英帝国司令勋章(CBE)勋衔,同年10月20日
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Google News article
Starfriseur - Nachrichten Print - WELT AM SONNTAG - Wirtschaft - WELT ONLINE - WELT ONLINE
Google News - over 5 years
Mit dem "Nancy-Kwan-Bob" hat er seinen Durchbruch. Der Schnitt wird weltweit kopiert, und Sassoon expandiert. 1964 eröffnet er den ersten US-Salon in New York. 1966 gründet er in London die erste Friseurschule. Reich macht ihn aber erst die Einführung
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Google News article
'Beauty' Is in the Eye of the Century City Beholder -
Google News - over 5 years
Marilyn Monroe, Grace Jones, Madonna, Hilary Swank, Iman, Kate Moss, Nancy Kwan, Stephanie Seymour, Venus Williams, Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie are among the familiar faces in the images. Lanza believes that those viewing Beauty Culture's more than
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Google News article
24 Early Entrance Grads in CSULA's Class of 2011 - TMC Net
Google News - over 5 years
She currently serves as a teacher's assistant for actress Nancy Kwan, who is a part-time faculty at CSULA. A regular contributor to the school newspaper, she also was a tutor for EEP and at the University Writing Center. Chow indicated that her goal is
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Google News article
Tonight at the Texas: Story of actress Nancy Kwan and Guitar Wolf unleashed - Dallas Morning News (subscription) (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
It's the story of Nancy Kwan who starred in the movies The World of Suzie Wong (1960) and Flower Drum Song (1961). As the theater's website puts it: "Nancy Kwan's story is both fairytale and poignant as it takes it's audience on a personal journey,
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Google News article
3 Films for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - TribLocal
Google News - over 5 years
Mei Li arrives in San Francisco illegally with her father, to get around the quota on immigrants from China, as the picture-bride-fiancé of Sammy Fong (Jack Soo) who really wants to marry Linda Low (Nancy Kwan) so he sends her Wang-Chi Yang (Benson
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Google News article
An urban folk singer who calls Alhambra home - Alhambra Source
Google News - over 5 years
... 2011 The Godfather will play Alhambra's most infamous resident in an upcoming HBO biopic. by Nasrin Aboulhosn, Community Contributor, May 26, 2011 Nancy Kwan will be honored for 50 years in Hollywood and her films will be screened at the AMC
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Google News article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Nancy Kwan
  • 2011
    Age 71
    The Straits Times reported in March 2011 that Kwan continues to serve as a film screenwriter and executive.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan currently resides in Los Angeles and has family members in Hong Kong. Once every few years, she travels to the island.
    In 2011, she recorded an audiobook for the 1989 memoir When Heaven and Earth Changed Places by Le Ly Hayslip with Jay Wurts.
    More Details Hide Details San Francisco Chronicles Patricia Holt praised Kwan's intonation in her delivery, writing that "Kwan's faint Asian accent and careful pronunciation of Vietnamese words make Hayslip's weaving of her past and present lives a riveting experience".
  • 2008
    Age 68
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Clapp became acquainted with Kwan through director Brian Jamieson, who was filming a documentary about Kwan's life. She serves as a spokeswoman for the Asian American Voters Coalition, a Pan-Asian political group established in 1986 to aid Asian actors. In her performing arts career, Kwan appeared in two television series and over 50 films.
  • 2007
    Age 67
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan and her husband Norbert Meisel write and direct films about Asian-Americans. Kwan believes that Asians are not cast in enough films and TV shows. Meisel and she resolved to create their own scripts and films about Asian characters. In 2007, they wrote, directed, and produced Star of Sunshine, a Bildungsroman film starring Boys Don't Cry actress Cheyenne Rushing, who plays Rachel. An ardent pianist in an afflicted household, Rachel journeys to find her restless father, a musician who deserted her when she was a mere child. In Sunshine, Rachel is supported by Kwan, the manager of a jazz club, who knows a mystery about her. In the film's final scene, Kwan dances, an activity she has enjoyed since her youth.
  • 2006
    Age 66
    If work is a pleasure, why not?" In 2006, Kwan reunited with Flower Drum Song co-star James Shigeta to perform A. R. Gurney's two-person play Love Letters.
    More Details Hide Details They performed the play at Los Angeles' East West Players and San Francisco's Herbst Theatre.
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan told The Kansas City Star in 2007 that she did not consider retiring, leads to trouble. Retirees, she professed, frequently find themselves with nothing to do because they have not readied themselves for it. Kwan said, "I hope I'm working until the day I die.
  • 1996
    Age 56
    In 1996 when he was 33, Kwan's son, Bernie, died after contracting AIDS from his girlfriend whom Kwan had cautioned him to avoid.
    More Details Hide Details Four years after his death, poet and actress Amber Tamblyn compiled her debut poetry book Of the Dawn and dedicated it to Pock. Calling him like a "big brother", she noted that she acted in the film Biker Poet with him when she was nine. Tamblyn said he was the "first guy" to convince her to share her poems. She has appeared on television commercials even into the 1990s and appeared in "late night infomercials" as the spokesperson for the cosmetic "Oriental Pearl Cream". Kwan has been involved in philanthropy for AIDS awareness. In 1997, she published A Celebration of Life – Memories of My Son, a book about her son who died after being infected by HIV. She gave profits from both the book and a movie she created about him to supporting the study of AIDS and the promotion of AIDS awareness.
  • 1994
    Age 54
    Around 1994, her husband and she produced the feature film Biker Poet.
    More Details Hide Details Bernie was the director and an actor in the film.
    In 1994, she lived with her second husband, film distributor David Giler, and her son, Bernie, in a Beverly Hills house.
    More Details Hide Details She preserved her "dancer's figure" through the Chinese martial art tai chi she dearly enjoyed and frequent dance sessions. That year, she assumed the role of 52-year-old Martha in Singapore Repertory Theatre's showing of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, an "intense psychological play" by Edward Albee.
    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.
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  • 1993
    Age 53
    In November 1993, Kwan co-starred in the two-character play Arthur and Leila about two siblings who struggle with their Chinese identities.
    More Details Hide Details It debuted in the Bay Front Theater in Fort Mason, San Francisco, and moved to Los Angeles two weeks later. Variety reviewer Julio Martinez praised Kwan for her ability to "flow easily between haughty sophistication and girlish insecurity".
    Kwan could have capitalized on the trend through a role in the 1993 film The Joy Luck Club.
    More Details Hide Details Because the filmmakers refused to excise a line calling The World of Suzie Wong a " horrible racist film," she passed on the role.
    In 1993, Kwan was asked about whether she was confronted with racism as a leading Asian Hollywood actress in the 1960s.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan replied, "That was 30 years ago and (prejudice) wasn't such a heavy issue then. I was just in great Broadway productions that were turned into films. I personally never felt any racial problems in Hollywood." In the 1990s, she faced a severe shortage of strong roles. She attributed this to both her age and the movie enterprise's aversion to selecting Asians for non-Asian roles. In earlier years, she was able to play an Italian and a Tahitian. In the 1990s, there were more Hollywood films about Asians.
    In May 1993, she completed the production of a film about Eurasians, Loose Woman With No Face, which she wrote, directed, and starred.
    More Details Hide Details She called the film "a slice of life about Euro-Asians in Los Angeles, and it's something I know about".
    In 1993, Kwan played Gussie Yang, a "tough-talking, soft-hearted Hong Kong restaurateur", in the fictional Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story.
    More Details Hide Details She played a pivotal role in the film, a character based on Seattle restaurateur and political leader Ruby Chow who hires Bruce Lee as a dishwasher and gives him the funds to open a martial arts school.
  • 1987
    Age 47
    In 1987, Nancy Kwan co-owned the dim sum restaurant Joss.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan, producer Ray Stark, and restaurateur and Hong Kong film director Cecile Tang financed the restaurant, located on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. Kwan sporadically records audiobooks. In 1995, Kwan recorded an audiobook for Anchee Min's memoir Red Azalea in what Publishers Weekly called a "coolly understated performance that allows the story's subtleties and unexpected turns to work by themselves".
  • 1979
    Age 39
    In 1979, the two returned to the United States because Kwan wanted him to finish his schooling there.
    More Details Hide Details Bernie was an actor, a martial artist, and a stunt performer. For the 1991 action comedy film Fast Getaway, fellow stunt performer Kenny Bates and he gripped hands and leaped off the Royal Gorge Bridge. They fell 900 ft before being restrained by wire rope 200 ft over the Arkansas River. Bates said their stunt was the "highest 'double drop' ever attempted". Kwan and Bernie recorded a tape about t'ai chi ch'uan.
  • 1973
    Age 33
    She did not stop her work, starring as Dr. Sue in the 1973 film Wonder Women.
    More Details Hide Details While in Hong Kong, Kwan founded a production company, Nancy Kwan Films, which made ads mostly for people in Southeast Asia. In the 1980s, she returned to the United States, where she played characters in the TV shows Fantasy Island, Knots Landing, and Trapper John, M.D.. In a 1993 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Kwan remarked that her son Bernie was frequently called a "blond, blue-eyed Chinese" because he could speak the language fluently.
  • 1970
    Age 30
    Nancy Kwan married David Giler (a Hollywood scriptwriter) in July 1970 in a civil ceremony in Carson City, Nevada.
    More Details Hide Details The marriage was Kwan's second and Giler's first. That year, Kwan returned to Hong Kong with her son because her father was sick. She initially intended to remain for one year to assist him, but ultimately remained for about seven years.
  • 1968
    Age 28
    Kwan divorced Peter Pock in June 1968.
    More Details Hide Details
  • 1964
    Age 24
    In the 1964 Fate Is the Hunter, her seventh film, Kwan played an ichnologist.
    More Details Hide Details It was her first role as a Eurasian character. Kwan's roles were predominantly comic characters, which she said were more difficult roles than "straight dramatic work" owing to the necessity of more vigor and precise timing. Kwan met Bruce Lee when he choreographed the martial arts moves in the 1969 film The Wrecking Crew. In Kwan's role in the film, she fought the character played by Sharon Tate by throwing a flying kick. Her martial arts move was based not on karate training, but on her dance foundation. Author Darrell Y. Hamamoto noted that this "ironically" twisted Kwan's "dragon-lady role" through its underscoring the replacement of Kung Fu with Western dance moves. She became close friends with Lee and met his wife and two children. In the 1970s, both Kwan and Lee returned to Hong Kong, where they carried on their companionship.
  • 1963
    Age 23
    In 1963, Kwan starred as the title character of Tamahine.
    More Details Hide Details Because of her role, she went to the optician to get contact lenses so should would look blue-eyed. Playing an English-Tahitian ward of the head master at an old English public school, she was praised by the Boston Globe for her "charming depiction" of the character.
  • 1962
    Age 22
    Her third movie was the 1962 British drama film The Main Attraction with Pat Boone.
    More Details Hide Details She played an Italian circus performer who was the love interest of Boone's character. While she was filming the movie in the Austrian Alps, she found Peter Pock, a hotelier and ski teacher, with whom she immediately fell in love. She reflected, "The first time I saw that marvelous-looking man I said, 'That's for me.'" After several weeks, the two married and resided in Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria. Kwan later gave birth to Bernhard "Bernie" Pock. In December 1963, Pock was constructing a luxury hotel in the Tyrolean Alps. During Christmas of that year, Nancy Kwan visited the location and was able to participate in several pre-1964 Winter Olympics events despite having been very occupied with movies. Her contract with film production company Seven Arts led her to travel around the world to film movies. She found the separation from her son, Bernie, who was not yet a year old, difficult. She said, "He's coming into a time when he's beginning to assert his personality." Fair-skinned and blue-eyed, Bernie had his father's appearance.
    In 1962 (when she was 22), Kwan was dating Swiss actor Maximilian Schell.
    More Details Hide Details In an interview that year, she said she did not intend to get married until she was older, perhaps 24 or 25. She said a number of Americans married just to leave home or to "make love". Kwan said this was problematic because she found dialogue and an ability to appreciate and express humor important in a marriage: "You can't just sit around and stare at walls between love-making." In 1961, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry declined to employ Kwan as a teacher for the soldiers. The infantry was training for military involvement in Malaya (now part of Malaysia), and the regiment's commanders believed that the infantrymen should be taught the Chinese language and how to handle chopsticks. Captain Anthony Hare announced to the public that the infantry needed a teacher—an attractive one. He later acknowledged that he appended the rider that the instructor must be attractive so that more soldiers would attend the sessions. Kwan, in Hollywood at the time, replied via cable: "Please consider me a candidate as Chinese teacher for Yorkshire Light Infantry. I am fluent in Chinese, fabulous with chopsticks, and fond of uniforms." Captain Hare commented, "Miss Kwan is too beautiful. I think she would be too much of a distraction." Her tardy request was not evaluated; it was denied by the infantry, which had just accepted the application of another Chinese woman.
    In addition to being featured on the cover of Life magazine, Kwan the subject of a 1962 article in a popular women's magazine, McCall's, entitled "The China Doll that Men Like".
    More Details Hide Details As a Hollywood icon, Kwan lived in a house atop Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles. She commuted in a white British sports car and danced to Latin verses. She enjoyed listening to Johnny Mathis records and reading Chinese history texts.
    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.
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  • 1961
    Age 21
    In 1961, she starred in Flower Drum Song in a related role.
    More Details Hide Details The film was distinguished for being the "first big-budget American film" with an all–Asian cast. Kwan did not sing the songs in the musical film; the vocals for Linda Low were performed by B. J. Baker. Comparing Suzie Wong and Flower Drum Song, she found the latter much harder because the girl she played was "more go-getter". Her prior ballet education provided a strong foundation for her role in Flower Drum Song, where she had much space to dance.
  • 1960
    Age 20
    The scene of Kwan, reposed on a davenport and adorned in a dazzling cheongsam, while showing a "deliciously decadent flash of thigh", became an iconic image. Clad in a cheongsam—"a Chinese dress with a high collar and slits, one on each side of the skirt"—Kwan was on the October 1960 cover of Life, cementing her status as an eminent sex symbol in the 1960s.
    More Details Hide Details Nicknamed the "Suzie Wong dress", the cheongsam in the portrait spawned thousands of copycat promotional projects. In a 1962 interview, Kwan said she "loved" the cheongsam, calling it a "national costume". She explained that it "has slits because Chinese girls have pretty legs" and "the slits show their legs". Chinese and Chinese-Americans became aggrieved after seeing how Chinese women were depicted as promiscuous. Tom Lisanti and Louis Paul speculated that the wave of unfavorable media attention drove filmmakers to escalate the production of Kwan's next film.
    The World of Suzie Wong was a "box-office sensation". Critics lavished praise on Kwan for her performance. She was given the nickname "Chinese Bardot" for her unforgettable dance performance. Kwan and two other actresses, Ina Balin and Hayley Mills, were awarded the Golden Globe for the "Most Promising Newcomer–Female" in 1960.
    More Details Hide Details The following year, she was voted a "Star of Tomorrow". Scholar Jennifer Leah Chan of New York University wrote that Suzie provided an Asian actress—Kwan—with the most significant Hollywood role since actress Anna May Wong's success in the 1920s. Designed by London hairdresser Vidal Sassoon, Kwan's bob cut in the film drew widespread media attention for the "severe geometry of her new hairstyle". Sassoon's signature cut of Kwan's hair was nicknamed "the Kwan cut", "the Kwan bob", or was plainly known as "the Kwan"; photographs of Kwan's new hairstyle appeared in both the American and British editions of Vogue. Kwan was unprepared for fame as an 18-year-old. While she was purchasing fabric in a store on Nathan Road, she found people staring at her from the window. Wondering what they were staring at, it suddenly struck her that she was the point of attraction. Kwan remarked that in Beverly Hills, she can walk without attracting notice. She rationalized, "It is better in America because America is much bigger, I guess". When people addressed her father after watching the film, they frequently called him "Mr. Wong", a name that severely displeased him.
    On February 15, 1960, she began filming the movie in London with co-star William Holden.
    More Details Hide Details During the filming, Kwan's only trouble was a lingerie scene. Robert Lomax, as played by Holden, tears off her Western dress and says, "Wear your own kind of clothing! Don't try to copy some European girl!" Director Richard Quine was displeased with Kwan's underclothes: She wore a full-slip rather than a half-slip and bra. Finding the attire too modest and unrealistic, he asked Stark to talk to Kwan. Stark discovered Kwan taking refuge in her dressing room, sobbing grievously. He warned her, "Nancy, wear the half-slip and bra or you're off the picture. France Nuyen is no longer in it, remember? If you're difficult you'll be off it too. All we want to do is make you the best actress possible." Kwan returned to the set after lunch, aloofly wearing a bra and half-slip, acting as if what had happened earlier had not transpired.
  • 1959
    Age 19
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Kwan responded to his phone call from London, asking, "How can I come? I'm in this show." To provide a pretext for Kwan's sudden hiatus from the touring production, Stark sent a cablegram to her superiors saying her father had become ill and had been hospitalized. Kwan later recalled in an interview about three years later, "So I went to the manager and told him a lie. It was not very nice, but what could I do?" After Kwan accepted the role, the Broadway play producer sued her for leaving with little notice. Nuyen, who was in an unstable relationship with Marlon Brando, had a nervous breakdown and was fired from the role because of her erratic actions. The film's director, Jean Negulesco, was fired and replaced by Richard Quine. Kwan, who previously had never been in a film, defeated 30 competitors from Hollywood, France, Japan, Korea, and the Philippines.
  • 1958
    Age 18
    Paramount favored the eminent France Nuyen, who had been widely praised for her performance in the 1958 film South Pacific.
    More Details Hide Details Stark acquiesced to Paramount's wishes. Nuyen received the role and Kwan later took the place of Nuyen on Broadway. In a September 1960 interview with Associated Press journalist Bob Thomas, she said, "I was bitterly disappointed, and I almost quit and went home when I didn't get the picture." Kwan did not receive the lead role because Stark believed she was too inexperienced at the time. Nuyen won the title role in the upcoming movie because of her powerful portrayal of Suzie Wong during the tour. She moved to England to film the movie, leaving an opening for Kwan to ascend to the lead female role in the touring production.
  • 1939
    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.
    More Details Hide Details The son of a Chinese lawyer, Kwan Wing Hong attended Cambridge University and became an eminent architect in Hong Kong. After he met Marquita Scott in London, the two married and moved to Hong Kong. In that era, society held a dim view of marriage between races. Kwan has an older brother, Ka Keung. In fear of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong during World War II, Wing Hong, in the guise of a coolie, escaped from Hong Kong to North China in Christmas 1941 with his two children, whom he hid in wicker baskets. Kwan and her brother were transported by servants, evading Japanese sentries. They remained in exile in Western China for five years until the war ended, after which they returned to Hong Kong and lived in a spacious, contemporary home her father designed. Marquita Scott escaped to England and never rejoined the family. Kwan's parents divorced when she was two years old. Her mother later moved to New York and married an American. Remaining in Hong Kong with the children, her father married a Chinese woman, whom Kwan called "Mother". Her father and her step-mother gave her, in addition to her brother, five half-brothers and half-sisters. Five of Kwan's siblings became lawyers.
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