Nationality: American. Born: Wong Liu Tsong in Los Angeles, California, 3 January 1905. Education: Attended California Street School, Chinese Mission School, a Chinese school, and Los Angeles High School. Career: 1919—film debut at age 14 in The Red Lantern ; 1921—first credited role in Bits of Life ; 1922—first starring role in The Toll of the Sea ; 1928—made her first film in Germany, Song ; 1929—stage debut in The Circle of Chalk with Laurence Olivier in London; made first film in England, Piccadilly ; 1930—New York stage debut in On the Spot ; on tour in Brooklyn, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles; on stage in Vienna in Tschun Tschi ( Springtime ), which she also produced; 1933—special one-week appearance in Blackpool, England, on stage in Variety Fair ; 1934—on stage in Italy, Switzerland, and the British Isles; 1935—on stage in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden; 1937—stars in Princess Turandot at the Westchester Playhouse, Mount Kisco, NY, and Westport, Connecticut; 1939—on stage in Melbourne, Australia; 1951—TV debut starring in The Gallery of Mme. Liu-Tsong . Died: In Santa Monica, California, 3 February 1961.
The Red Lantern (Capellani) (uncredited bit as lantern bearer)
Dinty (Neilan and MacDermott) (uncredited bit)
The First Born (Campbell) (uncredited bit as servant); Outside the Law (Browning) (uncredited bit as Chinese girl); Bits of Life (Neilan) (as Toy Sing); Shame (Flynn) (as Lotus Blossom)
The Toll of the Sea (Franklin) (as Lotus Flower)
Mary of the Movies (McDermott) (as herself); Drifting (Browning) (as Rose Li); Thundering Dawn (Garson) (as honky-tonk girl)
The Alaskan (Brenon) (as Keok); The Thief of Bagdad (Walsh) (as the Mongol slave); The Fortieth Door (Seitz—serial) (as Zira); Peter Pan (Brenon) (as Tiger Lily)
Forty Winks (Urson and Iribe) (as Annabelle Wu); His Supreme Moment (Fitzmaurice) (as harem girl in play); Screen Snapshots No. 3 (short) (as herself)
Fifth Avenue (Vignola) (as Nan Lo); A Trip to Chinatown (Kerr) (as Ohtai); The Silk Bouquet (as Dragon Horse); The Desert's Toll (Smith) (as Oneta)
Driven from Home (Young); Mr. Wu (Nigh) (as Loo Song); The Honorable Mr. Buggs (Jackman—short) (as Baroness Stoloff); Old San Francisco (Crosland) (as Chinese girl); The Chinese Parrot (Leni) (as Nautch dancer); The Devil Dancer (Niblo and Rebich Shores) (as Sada); Streets of Shanghai (Gasnier) (as Su Quan)
Across to Singapore (Nigh) (as Bailarina); The Crimson City (Mayo) (as Su); Chinatown Charlie (Hines) (as the Manda-rin's sweetheart); Song (Eichberg) (title role)
Großtadtschmetterling ( The City Butterfly ) (Eichberg) (as Mah); Piccadilly (Dupont) (as Sho-Sho)
The Road to Dishonour (Eichberg) (as Hai-Tang); Hai-Tang (German version of The Road to Dishonour ) (title role); L'Amour Maître Des Choses (French version of The Road to Dishonour ) (Kemm) (as Hai-Tang); Elstree Calling (Brunel and Hitchcock) (as herself); The Flame of Love (Eichberg) (as Hai-Tang); Wasted Love (Eichberg)
Daughter of the Dragon (Corrigan) (as Princess Ling Moy)
Shanghai Express (von Sternberg) (as Hue Fei)
A Study in Scarlet (Marin) (as Mrs. Pyke); Tiger Bay (Wills) (as Liu Chang)
Chu Chin Chow (Forde) (as Zahrat); Limehouse Blues (Hall) (as Tu Tuan)
Java Head (Ruben) (as Taou Yen)
Daughter of Shanghai (Florey) (as Lan Ying Lin); Hollywood Party (Rowland—short) (as herself)
Dangerous to Know (Florey) (as Mme. Lan Ying); When Were You Born? (McGann) (as Mei Lee Ling)
Island of Lost Men (Neumann) (as Kim Ling); King of Chinatown (Grinde) (as Dr. Mary Ling)
Chinese Garden Festival (short) (as herself)
Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (Hogan) (as Lois Ling)
Bombs over Burma (Lewis) (as Lin Ying); Lady from Chung-king (Nigh) (as Mme. Kwan Mei)
Impact (Lubin) (as Su Lin)
Portrait in Black (Gordon) (as Tani)
"The True Life Story of a Chinese Girl," in Pictures , August 1926 and September 1926.
Parish, James Robert, and William T. Leonard, Hollywood Players: The Thirties , New Rochelle, New York, 1976.
"Anna May Wong: Combination of East and West," in New York Herald Tribune , 9 November 1930.
Davis, Mac, "Fled from Fame for 5 Years," in New York Enquirer , 18 February 1957.
Obituary in New York Times , 4 February 1961.
Leibfried, Philip, "Anna May Wong," in Films in Review (New York), March 1987 and November 1987; see also issues for
October 1987, and January, February, and April 1988.
Sakamoto, Edward, "Anna May Wong and the Dragon-Lady Syndrome," in Los Angeles Times , calendar section, 12 July 1987.
Okrent, Neil, "Right Place, Wong Time: Why Hollywood's First Asian Star, Anna May Wong, Died a Thousand Movie Deaths," in Los Angeles Magazine , May 1990.
Leibfried, Philip, "Anna May Wong's Silent Film Career," in Silent Film Monthly (New York), February 1995.
Roberts, B., "Anna May Wong: Daughter of the Orient," in Classic Images (Muscatine), December 1997.
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Anna May Wong is chiefly remembered as the first actress of Asian extraction to achieve stardom and as the epitome of the "Oriental temptress," so much a fixture of melodramas in the late 1920s and 1930s. She began at Metro in 1919 at the age of 14 with a bit part in a Nazimova vehicle, The Red Lantern , and continued in such roles until receiving her initial screen credit in the first anthology film, Bits of Life . Although she starred in the first true Technicolor feature made in Hollywood, Toll of the Sea , and had an important role in Douglas Fairbanks's classic fantasy, The Thief of Bagdad , most of the remainder of her Hollywood films in the 1920s saw her as either an exotic dancer or a temptress.
Fed up with that stereotype, she fled to more tolerant Europe in 1928, where she became a true star in German and British films. She also appeared on stage in London, Vienna, Oslo, Copenhagen, Goteborg, Switzerland, Italy, and throughout the British Isles, with periodic returns to New York and Hollywood up until 1935. In 1936 she visited China for the only time, where she purchased costumes that she later used in films and on stage. The following year she was back in Hollywood under contract at Paramount, for whom she made four thrillers in three years, as well as a loan-out to Warner Brothers, none of which aided her flagging film career. She traveled to Australia in 1939, where she appeared on stage in Melbourne to raise funds for Chinese War Relief, to which she devoted her energies up until the end of World War II, appearing only in two Poverty Row productions during the war, after which she was in virtual retirement form the screen. She appeared in one film in 1949, and two years later tackled television in her own series on the Dumont network, which lasted only 11 episodes. She appeared on a number of television programs throughout the 1950s before her final film appearance in Portrait in Black in 1960.