May Wong, one of the first well known Chinese American actresses, starred in movies
such as Piccadilly,
Daughter of the Dragon, and Daughter of Shanghai. She was born in
1905 and began acting when she was only a teenager, quickly achieving
international fame. Her film The Toll of the Sea, which came out in
1922, was one of the first movies made in color. In the late 1920s, Anna, frustrated
by stereotypical roles she was being given in Hollywood, left for Europe. In
Europe, she received more opportunities, starring in both plays and films.
Anna returned to the United States in 1930s when Paramount
Studios offered her a contract. Although she was often asked to play
stereotyped characters, Anna worked to portray Chinese Americans more
authentically and in a positive light. During World War II, she took a break
from acting, and spent time and money advocating against the Japanese invasion
of China. Anna’s TV show The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong made US
television history as the first show starring an Asian American lead in 1951. Anna
planned a return to film, but passed away in 1961.
The picture above shows Anna May Wong near the end of her life.
She bought two tickets to a Charity Field Day and stands in the photograph with
then Deputy Mayor John McMorrow.
Actress Anna May Wong is sold two tickets to the Mayor’s Charity Field Day by Deputy Mayor John McMorrow, circa 1960-1961, Mayor
John F. Collins records, Collection #0244.001, City of Boston Archives, Boston
Blog post by Monica Haberny, City Archives Outreach Intern