Anna May Wong: From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend

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9780312293192: Anna May Wong: From Laundryman's Daughter to Hollywood Legend

Anna May Wong was one of Hollywood's most well-known Chinese American actresses. Between 1919 and 1960, she starred in over fifty movies, sharing billing with Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., Marlene Dietrich and Werner Oland. Her life, though, is the prototypical story of an immigrant's difficult path through the prejudices of American culture. Born in Los Angeles in 1905, she was the second daughter of six children born to a laundryman and his wife. Her life there fuelled her fascination with Hollywood and, in 1919 she secured a small part in her first film, The Red Lantern. Her most famous film roles were in Thief of Baghdad, Old San Francisco and Shanghai Express. Discrimination against Asians, though, was commonplace and when it came time to make a film version of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, she was passed over for the role that was ultimately given to the Luise Rainer. In a narrative that recalls both the pathos of life in Los Angeles's Chinese neighborhoods and the glamour of Hollywood's pleasure palaces, Graham Hodges recounts the life of a Hollywood legend.

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Book Description:

One of the first and best known Chinese American actresses in the history of Hollywood, Anna May Wong starred in over fifty movies between 1919 and 1960. She shared equal billing with such luminaries as Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and Marlene Dietrich. Born in Los Angeles in 1905, Wong was the second daughter of six children born to a laundryman and his wife. Growing up in Los Angeles fuelled her fascination with Hollywood, and in 1919, she managed to secure a small part in The Red Lantern, a Boxer Rebellion drama. Her most famous film roles were in Thief of Baghdad, Old San Francisco, and most of all, Shanghai Express opposite Dietrich. But when it came time to make a film version of Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, she was passed over for the role that was made for an Asian actress, yet ultimately given to Luise Rainer. Despite Wong's successes, such instances of overt racism plagued her career. In a narrative that recalls both the pathos of life in Los Angeles's Chinese neighborhoods and the glamour of Hollywood's golden age, Graham Hodges recounts the life of this elegant, beautiful, and underappreciated Hollywood legend.

About the Author:

Graham Russell Hodges is Professor of History at Colgate University.

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