Classic Movie Hub (CMH)


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Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong

According to the British Film Institute biography, her birth name was Luong Liu Tsong.

Along with contemporary Mae West, Wong was one of only two leading ladies who never kissed her leading man on-screen. However, such a scene was filmed for her 1929 film "The Road to Dishonour" with John Longden but was cut by censors who felt that moviegoers might be offended by an interracial kiss.

Anna attended Hollywood High School, where she became a photographer's model.

Anna once had an affair with noted silent film director Marshall Neilan. Most of her romances tended towards Caucasian men, as many Chinese men looked down on actresses as prostitutes.

Cousin of cinematographer James Wong Howe.



Enjoyed golfing, skiing, and horseback riding in her spare time.

Her Chinese name means "Willow Frosted, Yellow" (according to the Western custom) or "Yellow, Willow Frosted"(according to the Chinese custom).

Her mother was struck by a car and died several days later.

Her younger sister Mary Wong committed suicide by hanging herself in her garage in Los Angeles on July 15, 1940 at age 30. She had a bit part in the film The Good Earth (1937).

In 1956 Anna received a long-deferred chance to play a role she lost out on in 1940s Hollywood. Playing the Asian blackmailer in W. Somerset Maugham's "The Letter" on TV, the director of the show was none other than William Wyler, who had originally nixed the idea of her playing the role in the Bette Davis classic film version of The Letter (1940). The part instead went to non-Asian Gale Sondergaard.

In 1960, actor Anthony Quinn co-starred with Anna in her last film, Portrait in Black (1960). Quinn also starred as an Inuit in Nicholas Ray's The Savage Innocents (1960). Co-starring with him was actress Marie Yang, who in this film was for some reason billed as Anna May Wong! It may be the only instance ever of an actor appearing with two actresses of the same name in the same year.

In the 1930s she toured in vaudeville and with her own one-woman show, traveling through Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries. In London, she had a widely praised nightclub engagement at the Embassy Club, where she sang and danced.

Never married, Anna is rumored to have been bisexual but that has never been definitely established.

Once coached Dorothy Lamour, who was appearing as a Eurasian girl in the film Disputed Passage (1939).

Producer Ross Hunter cast her in the film version of Flower Drum Song (1961). However, she became ill in December of 1960 and was replaced by Juanita Hall.

She was more often cast in "sinister oriental" roles only after actresses like Nita Naldi were forced out of motion pictures owing to the coming of sound.

Spoke fluent French and German along with her native English and Chinese.

Starred in the first full length color movie, "Toll of the Sea" in 1922.

The second of seven children, her siblings were Richard, Lulu, James, Frank, Roger and Mary. Mary once served as Anna's film understudy but died suddenly in early adulthood. Her father disapproved of Anna's acting career, which caused a severe strain in their relationship. Following Anna's mother's death in a car accident in 1931, they grew even further apart. Anna's will disinherited her father.

Was a Christian Scientist practitioner.

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