Anna Mae Wong will be the first Asian American to receive US currency

LOS ANGELES – As a 14-year-old daughter of immigrants in this city’s Chinatown, Anna Mae Wong spoke on her way to her first movie role. During her decades-long career, she rose to become the first Asian-American film star in Hollywood. When Wong died in 1961, The New York Times called the actressKnown for her big, expressive eyes and flapper-era styles, “one of the most memorable characters of Hollywood’s glorious days.”

Now Wong is acquiring another coveted role – in the quarter. Part of a new effort too Written by Maya Angelou and the Astronaut Sally Ride In terms of currency, the US minting will begin on Monday producing pressed coins with Wong’s image, a close-up of her face resting on an elegant, trimmed hand.

The new quarter honors not only Wong’s pioneering career but also the difficulties she faced in trying to secure meaningful roles as an Asian American actress in an era”yellow face“and the laws of anti-intermingling.” Shirley Jennifer Lim, professor of history at Stony Brook University, wrote in Her book about Wong’s career.

The US mint is expected to produce more than 300 million quarter won, and it will become the first Asian American to use the US currency. Lim told me it was an honor that felt especially meaningful given how much Wong struggled to be seen as an American. “When you get the change, it can be there in the palm of your hand,” she said.

attributed to him…American mint

Born in 1905 in Chinatown, Wong was the daughter of a laundry worker who ran a shop on Figueroa Street. Around that time, the film industry was settling in Los Angeles, and increasingly productions were shot in the Wong neighborhood.

Wong was quoted as saying in his book “Never Wonderful: The Many Lives of Anna Mae Wong,” Anthony Chan. “I wandered my way through the crowd and got as close to the cameras as I dared. I stared and stared at those glamorous individuals, directors, cameramen, assistants, and actors in greasepaint, who had come down to our section of town to make films.”

Deciding that she wanted to act, Wong began playing background characters until her first leading role in “The Toll of the Sea” (1922) at the age of 17. But her career has been stymied by the limited number of parts for Asian American actors and stereotypes (Wong famously said she had “a thousand deaths” because she was killed in every movie she’s worked on.)

Wong was widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but often was unable to play romantic roles due to laws that prevented actors of different races from kissing each other on screen. She moved to Europe, where she enjoyed greater opportunities for non-white actors, starred in several films, and even acted in a play opposite to Laurence Olivier.

But she continued to face unfair restrictions in Hollywood. When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was casting The Good Land in the 1930s, based on Pearl S. Buck’s novel about Chinese farmers, Wong was considered one of the leading actors in the film. But a white actor was chosen to star in the film, who was to play Wong’s husband, and she was disqualified from the race. (The actress who eventually landed the role, Louise Rayner, She won an Oscar for her performance.)

Paula Yu, a Los Angeles-based screenwriter who wrote: Children’s book about Wong’s life. “That’s why this quarter is so important — because it’s silenced, it’s part of Americana, it’s part of American history.”

Wong’s quarter will be the fifth released this year as part of American Women’s Quarters Program, which calls for five new coins each year from 2022 through 2025. Representative Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who sponsored a bill promoting the creation of coins, said in a statement that she is proud to have led an effort to honor “cool” women who are often overlooked. in American history.

Along the Hollywood Walk of Fame one morning, tourists tilted their heads to read the names emblazoned on the sidewalk. At the busy intersection between Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the spotlight star was gold “Anna Mae Wong,” an honor the actress bestowed in 1960, one year before her death.

Next to star Wong was one of actress Lucy Liu, who in 2019 She became the second Asian American woman To receive a star on the Walk of Fame. In her speech, she thanked Liu Wong for charting a path for herself and the other cast.

“We can actually start our own little Chinatown here,” she joked, pointing to the stars next to them.

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For $3 million: Craftsman-style house in Novato, country complex in Fort Bragg and renovated 1951 house in San Diego.


Today’s tip comes from Audrey Keeler:

“My favorite place in California Channel Islands National Park. The waters are clear and the islands are rugged, as part of our national park system. The Chumash people and early settlers in California found this pure water, and visitors can now enjoy it all year round. The islands are known as the Galapagos Islands in North America because of the animals and plants that live on the islands only. Step into the paradise of islands on a two-hour canal cruise from Channel Islands Harbor, Oxnard. If you’re lucky, the boat captain will slow down in search of a group of whales or hundreds of dolphins will rush into the boat. Sign up for an all-day visit, bring your own water food and picnic, hike, kayak, or experience an overnight adventure with the island’s natural world. Each island in the chain has unique characteristics, and is a California treasure.”

Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will be sharing more in upcoming issues of our newsletter.


What are your favorite places to visit in California?

Email your suggestions to CAtoday@nytimes.com. Please write your name and the city you live in. We’ll be sharing more travel tips in upcoming issues of our newsletter.


The Red Hot Chili Peppers boycotted a world tour last week to play in a high school gymnasium on the grounds of an Indian reservation in Humboldt County.

The band’s tour director, Gage Freeman, said the California band wanted to play for the Native American community. “It’s something they’ve never done before,” Freeman told North Coast Magazine. “There aren’t a lot of big rock bands rolling around here, are they?”

During the show, lead singer Anthony Kiedis He said That no matter what’s to come, “This is my favorite show of the year, without a doubt! Without a doubt!”


Thanks for reading. I will be back tomorrow. – Somaya

Note: here Today’s mini crossword puzzle.

California Today, Briana Scalia, David Poehler, and Steve Moeti contributed. You can reach the team at CAtoday@nytimes.com.

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