Wong, Anna May (1905-1961)

views updated

Wong, Anna May (1905-1961)

Anna May Wong was the first Asian American actress to achieve Hollywood film star status and an early outspoken critic of Holly-wood's racist attitudes. Born Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles, she was third-generation Chinese-American. Her first role was as an extra in The Red Lantern (1919), and her first lead was in the first Technicolor film, Toll of The Sea (1922). Her most memorable part was in Shanghai Express (1932), which starred Marlene Dietrich. Although she won critical acclaim for her acting in The Thief of Bagdad (1924), Wong grew tired of stereotyped casting and emigrated to Europe, where her stage and film work were well received. A gifted linguist, she played roles in several languages. After she returned to the United States, she declined, on principle, to consider playing the role of the concubine in The Good Earth. In the early 1950s, she starred in a short-lived television series. Her last film was Portrait in Black (1960).

—Yolanda Retter

Further Reading:

Parish, James Robert, and William T. Leonard, editors. Hollywood Players: The Thirties. New Rochelle, New York, Arlington House, 1976.

Zia, Helen, and Susan B. Gall, editors. Notable Asian Americans. Detroit, Gale Research, 1995.

About this article

Wong, Anna May (1905-1961)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article