May 28, 2024 International Trending News Stories

Anna May Wong was the first Hollywood star with Chinese roots

The Google Doodle on January 22, 2020: She was the first American actress with Asian roots and played alongside Marlene Dietrich: Anna May Wong, among others.

Today 98 years ago, her first film, in which she played a leading role, came into the cinemas in the 1920s and 30s racism shaped the film industry in Hollywood. But Anna May Wong, whose real name was Wong Liu Tsong, fought for her dream to become an actress in these difficult times.

Anna May Wong played in “Lotus Flower.”
Tsong was born on January 3, 1905, in Chinatown, Los Angeles, and grew up with six siblings, according to the “Googlewatchblog.” Her parents came from China to the USA. Already in her childhood, she was fascinated by the film industry. She often went to the cinema and stayed in front of the film studios to somehow get a part. At home, she rehearsed in front of the mirror. With success: At the age of eleven, she got her first small role. After that, she changed her name to Anna May Wong.

At the age of 16, she started high school and wanted to dedicate herself entirely to her passion. Her way was stony; at times, she didn’t have any roles at all. After some stereotypical roles, she got the leading role in the movie “Toll of the Sea” (Lotus flower) in 1922.

The movie was not only a milestone for Wong himself. “Lotus Flower” was one of the first color movies, and for the very first time, an Asian woman played the leading role. But the film didn’t help to make the big breakthrough. The filmmakers often chose white actresses for Asian characters.

Wong made over 50 films…
At the end of the 20s, she set off for Europe and landed in Berlin. The German public was very taken with Wong. She made numerous silent movies and her first sound film. And then the final breakthrough came when she was back in the USA: The filmmakers of “Paramount” made a contract with Wong. She played her most significant role in the adventure movie “Shanghai Express” in 1932, together with Marlene Dietrich.

According to Dietrich’s biography, the two even had an affair. She is also said to have had a love affair with Leni Riefenstahl. But homosexual relations in the ’20s and ’30s were nothing unusual. Wong was never married, but numerous issues are said to have been her. At that time, many feared that mixed marriages would destroy the reputation of the persons involved. Moreover they were forbidden in California until 1948.

The Second World War and the reappearing China-racism brought her career to an end. Wong made over 50 films and was awarded your star on the Walk of Fame.

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