Google has honored the Los Angeles-born Chinese American actress, Anna May Wong, with a Google Doodle commemorating the 97th anniversary of her debut film, “The Toll Of the Sea.” The Google Doodle Wednesday featured characters that Wong played throughout her illustrious and varied career.
Recently attaining greater post-humous recognition, Anna May Wong, born on Jan. 3 of 1905, was recognized as the first Chinese American movie star in Hollywood’s history, beginning her film career in 1919 at the age of 14, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Her first substantial role was 1922’s “The Toll of the Sea,’ but she landed a prominent role in Douglas Fairbanks’ “The Thief of Bagdad” two years later which made her internationally famous as a successful, high-profile Hollywood actress whose works ranged from silent film to sound film, television, radio and stage.
She took greater acclaim and more important roles in Daughter of the Dragon (1931), Josef von Sternberg’s “Shanghai Express” (1932) in which she co-starred opposite Marlene Dietrich, and Daughter of Shanghai (1937) and others.
“I like my part in this picture (‘Daughter of Shanghai’) better than any I’ve had before … because this picture gives Chinese a break – we have sympathetic parts for a change!” Wong told the press at the time. “To me that means a great deal.”
Her growing fame and stature emboldened her to speak out against racial prejudice that prevented people of minority races from being given leading roles and achieving success and stardom.
In a prominent Film Weekly interview entitled “I Protest”, Wong demanded to know, “Why is it that the screen Chinese is always the villain? And so crude a villain – murderous, treacherous, a snake in the grass! We are not like that. How could we be, with a civilization that is so many times older than the West?”
In 1935, Anna May Wong campaigned to play the female lead in Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth,” but was severely disappointed after MGM gave the role to a white actress, Luise Rainer, who won an Oscar for her acting.
Wong, died in 1961, has been recognized for her important contribution to the Hollywood entertainment industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and honored to be depicted as one of the four Hollywood Goddesses depicted in the “Gateway to Hollywood” sculpture at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles.