Born: January 3, 1905, in Los Angeles, CA; birth name Wong Liu Tsong (Wang Liu Cong), which means Golden Willow.

America's first Chinese-American star. She overcame the odds to become a movie actress, one celebrated by the magazines as a stunning beauty with a complexion like a rose blushing through ivory--and yet never achieved the heights of contemporary Caucasian actresses. Her role choices were frequently limited because of her ethnicity--almost one hundred years later, Asian-American actors note that things haven't really changed. Anna May Wong may be the only true Asian American star thus far.

Anna May Wong was born in the LA Chinatown to an immigrant Chinese family who owned a laundry. Independent-minded from childhood, she took advantage of her family's middle class status and her own status as favorite daughter to thwart her parents' attempts at raising her traditionally.

Fascinated by film at an early age, Anna May managed to get a part in a 1919 movie called The Red Lantern, at the age of fourteen. Though her father disapproved, she had found her calling, and first got her name into the credits in 1921.

As a young woman, Anna May was thoroughly beautiful by anyone's standards, and gracefully tall for the time. She went on to make many films, though she was often passed over for the lead in favor of poorly Orientalized actresses such as Myrna Loy. Anna May knew there was prejudice and stereotyping working against her, and frequently flat refused to play the maidservant and evil mistress roles she was offered if they were too demeaning to Chinese women. Over the years, she worked alongside performers such as Marlene Dietrich, Lon Chaney, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Lana Turner, and others. She not only survived the move to talkies, but was in the very first two-strip Technicolor film ever made.

However, by the time she was 23, Anna May was tired of being treated as another piece of Chinoiserie novelty. She moved to Europe and was in films and plays there for three years, then got her shot at the Dietrich film. That was the height of her fame, although she had her own TV show in the 1950s, about a lady antique collector who solved mysteries.

Never married, Anna May Wong died in 1961. Although she was truly a striking beauty, popular in glamour photography of her young days, she is nearly forgotten today. To see photos of her, go to "" and "" ... to read her own words from a film magazine feature article from 1926, see ""

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