Anna May Wong was the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood and made appearances in over sixty films throughout the course of her career.
Wong was cast in one of the earliest Technicolor movies in addition to her performances in silent films, television, and the theatre. She is widely respected, and her legacy still has an impact on performers all over the world.
Who Was Anna May Wong?
Wong, a second-generation Taishanese Chinese-American, was born in Los Angeles, where he developed a passion for movies and started performing in them at a young age.
She was born in Los Angeles' Chinatown in 1905. Her natal name, “Frosted Yellow Willows,” was Wong Liu Tsong. Family called her Anna May. Her grandpa emigrated from Taishan, China, in the 1850s. He started a business in 1848 gold-rich California. Sam Sing was born in California in 1858.
Wong grew up working in her family's laundromat and taking Chinese studies. Wong started visiting movie sets after filming relocated to California in the 1910s. She skipped school to see movies with her lunch money. She wanted to be a star at age 9. Anna May Wong is a combination of her English and Chinese names.
Why is Anna May Wong Well-known?
The distinction of becoming the first Asian American actor to work in Hollywood belongs to Anna May Wong.
She could perform in everything from silent movies to talkies, the stage to television, and she did it all while negotiating the blatant bigotry and typecasting in the business that ultimately prevented her from realizing her full potential.
Despite the fact that it has been almost 60 years since her passing, interest in her legacy has grown. In January, in recognition of the 97th anniversary of The Toll of the Sea, which featured Wong in her first main role, she was even given the Google Doodle treatment.
Hong, who is Korean by birth, saw Wong in Shanghai Express for the first time. Hong was drawn to the Chinese American actress because she was the first Asian lady Hong had ever seen in a movie who spoke English without an accent. She had a profound impact on me.
I also didn't really have many preconceptions about stereotypes about Asian women in this nation because I moved here as an adult.
What Led to Anna May Wong's Demise?
Due to her health concerns, Wong was unable to take the role of Madame Liang in the film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song.
Two days after her final on-screen appearance on The Barbara Stanwyck Show in the episode “Dragon by the Tail,” Anna passed away from a heart attack at the age of 56 at home in Santa Monica.
At Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, her cremated bones were buried next to those of her mother. The Chinese names of Anna May and Mary, as well as her mother's Anglicized name, are written down the sides of the gravestone.
Was Anna May Wong Married?
Despite the fact that she never wed, speculations about her continued to circulate in the press. The director of Dracula and Freaks Todd Browning and the English performer Eric Maschwitz, who (it is said) penned the song “These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)” about Wong, were two men who were romantically linked to her throughout her life, but none of those relationships have been verified.
Wong never got married, but when she claimed to be “wedded to my art” to a reporter during a stopover in Tokyo in 1936, there was some doubt about that. Later, the neighborhood papers revealed that she had wed “Art,” a Cantonese businessman.
Anna May Wong Will Be the First Asian American to Appear on U.S. Money
The American Women Quarters Program, which runs from 2022 to 2025, honors five pioneering women in American history.
The sixth coin to be released this year features Wong. At its facilities in Denver and Philadelphia, the U.S. Mint is anticipated to create more than 300 million Wong quarters.
Anna May Wong, a Hollywood film star who had a trailblazing career, will be the first Asian American featured on U.S. currency. The U.S. Mint on Monday will begin producing quarters with her image. https://t.co/EG9aRoET5Z pic.twitter.com/WxwWVvVyy5
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 18, 2022
Wong was referred to as “a bold campaigner who championed for more representation and more multi-dimensional parts for Asian American performers” by Mint Director Ventris Gibson.
The front of the coins will have an image of George Washington drawn by 20th-century sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser, who became the first woman to design a coin for the United States in 1921.
The back of the coins will include a close-up of Wong with her head resting on her hand. Poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride, suffragist and politician Nina Otero-Warren, and Wilma Mankiller, the first female main chief of the Cherokee Nation, were the other four women participating in the event this year.