Skip to main content
The largest online newspaper archive
A Publisher Extra® Newspaper

The Honolulu Advertiser from Honolulu, Hawaii • 21

Honolulu, Hawaii
Issue Date:
Extracted Article Text (OCR)

HI l-l III 111 liai.l.MUOii il.llli I I U. Willi I IIH.I III .1 1 I. I JllBI III HI II. Ill 111 L' I 1 1 '-g MM A trrrevt i ANNA MAY WONG'S Own Stury of Her Rise to Fame and Fortune in the American Cinema, Overcoming First Race Prejudice and Then the Disfavor ot Her Own People, Who Charged Disloyalty 7 'A 4 v-" v. 4c 1 A Til i i 1 i I if 4 -A.

d-; 5' 5 A 8 scene of Anna May Wong and -p Ramon Novarro in which she is cast with Americans but is thor oughly Chinese herself CX Wong, though a main, distinctly Chi- i' PA nese, endearing herself 'v 1' rS '-v )QX all the more to her Amer- t'c. f. 1 "-J---'' lO lean friends and admirers 1 l.V!. 1 J' 1 By Alice L. Tildesley 1 ivV tVab, VI? AM lucky that I am are dependent on them, observes Anna Anna May Wong, her vivid Oriental May witii a daughterly smile.

"Some- bsauty glowing In the quiet setting ol my times when I have not been working for California bungalow living room, leaned a week or two my father will come to me f4-fy if A 1 1 i 3 I if i F.V'iU. 'Mother Mine, tnt first step up the long ladder that leads to fame. Romance? "I try not to think cf romance or marriage," confessed Anna May. "If love comes to me, how can I say? ,1 sttail take it to my family and see what ihey think. But hope that it will not come for a long time.

I hone that I shall make a great succ2s3 first; that I shall have enjojed my career and provided for my family as I dream of doing. 4 "Americans make wonderful friends. Perhaps I should say Caucasians make wonderful friends. I have more friends among women than among men because the Chinese reserve prevents my becoming too well acquainted with the opposite sex I cannot make friends instantly; I must know the person long and well first, for when I take a friend I want to mean loyalty forever, going all the way, no drawing back for any reason. "Love is something no one can control.

I shall not try. Maybe when I know more of life I shall change my mind as to the chance of happiness if I married a Caucasian, but now I believe from my observation that mixed marriages seldom succeed. I shall drift -along. Let romance come to me if i must, but I shall no go forth to seek it. "Something bigger than human beings shapes our paths.

What is to be. is to be. If have an intuition that clearly shows you how to heip toward a desire, follow it follow it! But. as a rule, you will do the thing that is for you tc do; leave the event on the laps of the god3. "Picture brides may seem romantic to Caucasians.

But romance, as you know it. Is unknown to Orientals. Fate has It arranged that two people shall marry No matter how far distant. Fate will bring those two togethei When a marriage has been arranged and culminated, the Chinese sense of honor Will keep the two together. There are few divorces among Chinese.

"Chinese men are quite wonderful to their women. They do not show their affection as Americans do by rushing into the house, grabbing their wives and kissing them madly, but their love is trut and deep. girls I went to school with have married and seem to hit it off in the free and easy American style. But already they have many he'rs to worship a the grave. Chinese girls in this country try to be American on the outside; they wear American clothes, or.

if they wear Chinese costume I notice have discarded the trousers fcr short skirts! Most cf them have bobbed their hair and they look at me in a strange manner because my hair is long. They have marcel waves and permanent waves and their heaa. look like American heads at a little distance. But they canr.ot change Inside "I notice that all married people among Chinese are matchmakers. 'We are happy Let the rest become is theif motto.

They use ofScial matchmakers, though This woman sees a girl of marriageable ae and approaches the girl's father telling of a youth she has seen She gives his background and virtues and his financial rating and prespects The rather shows his daughter the young man picture and says: 'What do you think ol this And if she has no objection to oTer. she obeys her father and Is betrothed. "Nowadays it is becoming more common for the young people to meet at som gathering and become ecquainted If the boy has honorable intentions and I hav never seen one who hadn't he consults the matchmaker himself and sets the wheels in WHEN little Tsong first grew up. chft had her fling at being the perfect flapper. She moved into a Hollywood apartment.

She wore the most collegiate of clothes and spoke the slang of day-after-next. But that phase passed Two years ago her father built her a little house behind the laundry, a gift to his daughter if she would come home, and home she came, shedding her false Occidentalism as a garment. "A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a mar perfected without trials," runs a Chinese proverb. The little girl who ran ahead of the Jeering boys to the tune of "Chink-Chlnk-Chinaman" has had her share ot trial. After the studio gates opened and directors began to know that the Oriental maiden with the glorious eyes could be counted on to give a good performance, many were the heartaches that came her way.

A new picture called for a Chines, girl In the starring role Anna May Wong was given a screen test She was encouraged' to believe that the role was tiers And then it was announced that a well-known star would be mad up lor the part. This, over and ovc "Living in a constricted space may seem uncomfortable and unpleasant, saio the girl who was brought up in a tiny flat over a laundry, "but I believe close quarters promote sympathy and understanding. Lives are Interwoven What affects one affects all. and much opportunity is to be had for learning the Chinese virtue, compassion. "Yes, I tell you, I am lucky that 1 am Chinese Copyright bu Public Ledger X.

A and say: 'Are you sure you have plenty of money? You know that 1 can always give you anything Do not borrow from any one, but come to The small lsong used to wish that she lived in Chinatown so that she might play-frith her little yellow schoolmates. Their game of shuttlecock appealed to her mightily, but with the long school hours opportunity to Indulge In it was slight. She liked boys' games and excelled in baseball and marble-shooting with the young Americans on her home street. OFTEN Into the crooked streets ot Chinatown would come the cameras, lights, megaphones and exciting stir ot motion-picture companies. Anna May's bright eyes and rapt little face were al-" ways to be seen among the throng of Oriental children gathered to watch Mae Murray's blond emoting or Wally Reid's stalwart daring.

"Some day," she used to say to herself as she trotted on her way to school. Dreams of herself responding to the call of "Ready: Action: Camera!" danced through her head as she labored over Chinese characters or learned that three and five are eight. Whenever she had the requisite nickel or dime she poked It into the glass cage before the Plaza nickelodeon and spent a tense hour in the little theatre watching Ruth Roland or Pearl White on the silver sheet. "And then I would rush home and do the scenes I had witnessed before a mirror. I would register contempt, shame, reproach, joy and anger.

I would be the pure girl repulsing the evil suitor, the young mother pleading for her baby, the vampire luring her rememberea Anna May. "One day I was doing a big crying scene before my mirror when my mother walked Into the room. She must have been amazed to see me with tears streaming down my face, clutching a bit of lingerie to my bosom, but she said nothing. She was very considerate of one whom she must have thought at least peculiar. She left the room without a word.

"It got about that little Tsong wanted to go into pictures, and Chinese used to come to see my father and tell him not to let me go to studios. Terrible places, studios. Girls who went into them were marching toward destruction. forward earnestly. "I think perhaps the Chinese have felt that with my success on the screen 1 have cooled toward my own race, but that is not true.

Loyalty is one of the loveliest virtues. It is impressed on every Chinese child. Loyalty, I mean, to the best teachings of our people. What good does it do for a flower to yearn to be a bird? Or a fawn to pine because it is tot a greyhound? "East Is East and West is West, and never the twain shall Kipling says. But I believe they can meet In sympathy and admiration for the fine things in one another.

Why should they meet and blend an mere than red and black? Let them set onT each other, as positive colors do. "1 am proud of the aflection of the Americans. When I am depressed I open some of my fan maL and read the letters from children and young people all over this, country, and my heart hits. A sure cure for blues! i have not made what success is mine by imitating Caucasians. I have found them fascinating, interesting and even thrilling.

But I am Chinese. "I was bom in Los Angeles, where my father was also born. I have never been to China, but I seem to know It from what I have heard from Chinese who have come here, and from my father, who went from the gold Acids of California to the country of his ancestors before my birth. "1 was educated in Los Angeles. By day went to the American Mission School and by night to the Chinese School.

Our family did not live in the Chinese quarter but on Figueroa street, where our neighbors were Americans and we were called by our English names. The doctor who brought me into the world named me Anna'; my Chinese name is Tsong. When I was old enough to begin to think about a career 1 ade'ec? 'May' to partly because we fd! haa four-letter names and I wanted 10 nt different, and partly because it made a prettier signature." The family of seven children were supported by the thriving laundr business ot Mr. WDng a business still thriving though the second daughter of the house has ascended to the cinematic heavens. Ml have lime to die, i have, but 1 haven't time to lie dnwnl is a favored exclamation of the father In rush hours, but he steadfastly refuses to retire.

"Parents like to think their children The charming figure of Anna May Wong superimposed on a street scene from the city of her ancestors "An old Chinese character actor became interested in me, however. 'Your eyes are large and your features out he said to me. "There is no reason why you should not make good If you are willing to work So he introduced me to an assistant director, who gave me extra work. "In the flu epidemic when Nazimova was making 'The Red Lantern." I had my first chance an extra. I was enchanted.

Afterward, I saved up my pennies and bought a balcony seat to see how I would look on the screen. 1 watched the picture eagerly, anxiously, then despairingly. I could not find myself at all! "My father was still opposed to my. career. When I was to work in a picture, he always went out to the big touring bus that called for the extras and looked to see if other w-omen respectable women were there.

Unless plenty of Chinese women were ia the bus I could not go. "One day a boy from the studio told me of an opportunity for work at Culver City and offered to call for me in rus car, but when he came my father would not let me No other girl he asked, and when I said "No he forbade me leaving the house. "He is proud of me now, though. He is always telling people that today all the nicest girls In China are on the stage. I was lucky, too, because unlike most of the extra girls, who struggled along on five to seven-fifty a day when they worked, I had no worry over money.

My father was willing to take care of me. "But I am proud to say that everything I own in my name, every educational advance I have made dancing lessons, piano, voice I have paid for with my earnings. The little car out there Is the car 'Peter Pan paid for; I was the Indian maid in that picture. FRED NI3LO was the first director to notice the earnest little Chinese girl among his extras. "She's a born trouper I he said, and gave her a small part in.

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 300+ newspapers from the 1700's - 2000's
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Honolulu Advertiser
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

About The Honolulu Advertiser Archive

Pages Available:
Years Available: