Google Doodle slideshow on January 22nd celebrates the first-ever Chinese American movie star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong, on the 97th anniversary of the day The Toll of the Sea went into general release, which was her first leading role.
Anna May Wong was an American actress, viewed as the first Chinese American Hollywood celebrity, as well as the first Chinese American actress to increase international acknowledgment. Her long and different career spread over the quiet film, sound film, TV, stage, and radio.
Anna May Wong was born close Chinatown in Los Angeles to second-generation Toisonese (Taishanese)- Chinese-American parents, Wong Liu Tsong on January 3rd in 1905. Initially from Taishan, China, Wong’s family showed their children both English and Cantonese. When not at school or in her dad’s Sam Kee laundry, Wong started investing her time hanging around movie studios and approaching directors for roles, and by age 11, she had picked her stage name: “Anna May Wong.”
Anna May Wong got captivated by the movies and started acting in films at an early age. During the silent film period, she acted in The Toll of the Sea in 1922, one of the first movies made in color, and in Douglas Fairbanks’ The Thief of Bagdad in 1924. Wong became a fashion icon and had accomplished international stardom in 1924. Disappointed by the stereotypical supporting roles she hesitantly played in Hollywood, Wong left for Europe in the late 1920s, where she featured in a few notable plays and movies. Anna May Wong was often ignored or just offered small roles because of winning racial barriers. In any case, declining to be limited to or typecast as Asian stereotypes, she moved to Europe in 1928. There, Wong featured in numerous plays and movies, for example, Piccadilly in 1929 and The Flame of Love in 1930, and was soon guaranteed leading roles in the U.S.
Anna May Wong spent the first half of the 1930s traveling between the United States and Europe for film and stage work. After coming back to the U.S., one of the roles Wong was cast for was inverse her companion Marlene Dietrich in the 1932 release of Shanghai Express, which got one of her most popular roles. Anna May Wong was highlighted in movies of the early sound time, for example, Daughter of the Dragon in 1931 and Daughter of Shanghai in 1937 and with Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express in 1932. Soon after, she was named the “world’s best-dressed woman” by the Mayfair Mannequin Society of New York, establishing her position as an international fashion icon.
In 1935 Anna May Wong was dealt the most serious dissatisfaction of her career, when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer wouldn’t consider her for the leading role of the Chinese character O-Lan in the film version of Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth, picking rather the white actress Luise Rainer to play the leading role. Wong spent the next year visiting China, visiting her family’s ancestral town and studying Chinese culture. In the late 1930s, she featured in a few B films for Paramount Pictures, depicting Chinese and Chinese Americans in a positive light. She gave less consideration to her movie career during World War II, when she committed her time and cash to help the Chinese reason against Japan. Anna May Wong came back to the public eye during the 1950s in a few TV appearances.
In 1951, Anna May Wong made history with her TV program The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong, the first-ever U.S. TV program featuring an Asian American series lead. She had been intending to come back to film in Flower Drum Song when she died in 1961, at 56 years old from a heart attack. For quite a long time after her passing, Anna May Wong was recollected primarily for the stereotypical “Dragon Lady” and bashful “Butterfly” roles that she was often given. Her life and profession were reexamined in the years around the centennial of her birth, in three significant literary works and film retrospectives.
In acknowledgment of her numerous achievements, Anna May Wong was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
Highlighted in the Google Doodle slideshow are scenes from Anna May Wong’s life, including some of her most celebrated characters from the in excess of 50 movies she was highlighted in all through her profession.