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This month TV ACRES looks at: 

...The Chinese

Like most minority groups the Chinese in America have had to put up with under-representation on TV. In addition, when they were depicted on TV they were given roles of servants, gangsters or lower class blue-collar workers. But, the winds of change have hit television and the images of the Asian American has become more popular. Their numbers have not significantly increased in relationship to the overall amount of actors on the TV screen, but their images has become more favorable with Asian actors now playing successful business men, doctors, detectives and lawyers. The following is a sampling of the Chinese characters that have appeared  on American TV from the 1950s to the present.      

 *   -- the person was the star or co-star 
  -- a regular or a recurring actor 

*(Weaver Levy/costar) Oliver Kee, Chinese-American seaman who plyed the waters of the South Seas with Captain Adam Troy, a schooner skipper. Sondi Sodsai (Miss Thailand of 1960) and Lani Kai appeared as Sondi and Kelly, two attractive young Tahitian women featured during the 1960-62 season.

*(Glen Gordon) Dr. Fu Manchu, an evil, oriental scientific genius operating out of Macao whose nefarious goals included the destruction of western democracy. Hot on his heels was the determined Scotland Yard inspector Sir Dennis Nayland-Smith. The series was based on the character created by novelist Sax Rohmer in the early 1900's.

*(Lucy Liu) Ling ("soft L, soft G") Woo, a Chinese-American no-holds-barred female lawyer with long raven tresses who worked at the law firm of Fish & Associates in the city of Boston. Ling's icy cold character makes you hear the "Dum-Dee-Dum-Dee-Dum-Dum" music that accompanied the witch in the movie "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). Ling was very quirky and sued God, the Environment; and a woman for having real breasts. She liked to suck fingers and give "hair" during sex (dragging her long hair over her partner's body to stimulate them). Lucy Lu grew up in Queens, New York and spoke Chinese until she went to school.

**(Sammee Tong) Peter Tong, outspoken Chinese houseboy who cared for the household of Hollywood attorney, Bentley Gregg. Peter's relatives included Victor Sen Yung (of BONANZA fame) as cousin, Charlie Fong (earlier called Charlie Ling); and Beal Wong as Grandpa Ling "a 70-year-old juvenile delinquent" who limited English vocabulary included the words "Hello, Joe" and "Nice."

**(Victor Sen Yung) Hop Sing, a hot-tempered Chinese cook who worked for the Cartwright family on the Ponderosa ranch near Virginia City, Nevada in the late 1800's. Hop Sing was fond of reminding his employers "You listen Hop Sing. Hop Sing 'A' number one cook. Will cook whatever you like." Victor Sen Yung also appeared as Asian cousin Charlie during the 1961-62 season of BACHELOR FATHER/NBC/CBS/ABC /1959-62

**(Leon Lontoc) Henry, oriental manservant and chauffeur for Los Angeles millionaire police detective, Captain Amos Burke. Henry often drove his employer to the scene of a crime in a Rolls Royce.

**(Brian Fong) Officer Fred Sing, Chinese-American policeman and expert motorcycle rider working for a special unit of the Los Angeles Police Department.

**(James Wong) Des, a happy go-lucky Asian-American living in an apartment owned by a free-wheeling African-American guy who rents out rooms to make ends meet. James Wong is a native of Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with an engineering degree, pursued acting and comedy and is proficient in the martial arts (Kenpo Karate, Judo, Aikido, Chinese Wu Shu and Japanese Sword) as well in the musical arts.

**(Lydia Lei & Patricia Ayame Thomson) Allison Ling, Chinese-American secretary of Harrison K. Fox, a San Francisco-based attorney whose father Harry Fox frequently burst in on Allison and interrupted her while working on legal matters

**(Liam Dunn) Smitty, an Oriental-American bellboy who worked at the Manhattan apartment building of Ms. Diana Smythe, an English divorcee new to New York City.

**(Richard Loo) Hu Fang, the evil leader of the Hill bandits who teamed with a group of renegade pilots (The Flame Dragons). Hu Fang's plans to conquer a region called Kunsang in China were thwarted by American pilots known as the Flying Tigers. Other cast included Ding Howe ("Good Friend" in Chinese) a U.S. pilot born in China who returned from America to fight Hu Fang and his minions; Rob Lee as Wing Lee, a Chinese mechanic working for the Flying Tigers; Victor Sen Yung, as General Ching, a Chinese leader who battled Hu Fang; and Spencer Chan as Lum Chow, the proprietor of the Gentle Dragon bar.

**(Ming-Na Wen) Debbie “Deb” Chen, [a.k.a. Gin May Chen] emergency medical intern at Chicago County General Hospital. Her character quit her job but .later in the series returned during the 1999-2000 fall season as a third-year resident. Ming-Na Wen [later shortened to Ming-Na] was born in Macau, China. Her family immigrated to New York City when she was four. and then moved to Pittsburgh when she was nine. Her family still lives in Pittsburgh where they operate a successful Chinese restaurant. Ming-Na was included on People magazines list of the “50 Most Beautiful People.”

**(Chao-Li Chi) Chao Li Chi, an elderly Chinese-American butler who cared for the needs of the wealthy Angela Channing in a mansion located in the fictional Tuscany Valley near San Francisco. Chao Li was on hand to help with the delivery of Maggie Gioberti's baby boy during the 2/20/87 episode of this prime-time soap opera.

**(Natsuko Ohama) Captain Amanda Cohen, Asian-American police officer who supervised homicide detectives on the nightshift of a Seattle police department. Her character later died in a plane crash.

**(Lauren Tom) Julie, the Chinese-American girlfriend of Ross Geller, a fellow paleontologist. The Julie character was introduced in episode No. 24 "The One Where Rachel Finds Out" as Ross returns from a seminar in China with a new girlfriend (Julie) and is written out of the program in episode No. 34 "The One With Russ" after Ross decides to continue his romantic liaison with his friend Rachel Green.

**(Voice of Lauren Tom) Amy Wong, an Asian university engineering student interning with Professor Hubert Farnsworth’s Planet Express Research & Development Division. She has good fashion sense, likes to party, but is quite superficial. When speaking, she mouths a fictional pseudo-Asian language that blends elements of Japanese, Chinese and gibberish. (phrases like “ai ya” and “Dame yaru n datta ne!”). Her parents, Leo and Inez Wong are ranchers on Mars. They donated a large sum of money to the University of Mars consequently, the library is dubbed the Wong Library and the sorority is named Kappa Kappa Wong.

**(Irene Tsu) Dr. Tingley, oriental robotics expert in charge of following the progress of Officer Haven, a robot programmed to be the perfect cop.

*(Anna May Wong) Madame Liu Tsong, a beautiful Chinese proprietress of a number of art galleries who got involved in all sorts of international intrigue on her many business endeavors. Anna May Wong's real name was Wong Liu-Tsong.

**(Lauren Tom) Dot, a Chinese-American hairdresser friend of the series main character Grace Kelly (a divorced, recovering alcoholic with 2.4 children) introduced during the 1997-1998 season.

*(Bruce Lee/costar) Kato, a mild-mannered oriental houseboy by day and a karate-chopping crime fighting avenger by night. The manservant of publisher Britt Reid (alias the Green Hornet) Kato teamed with his employer to battle the criminal underworld in a souped-up car called the "Black Beauty" (driven by Kato). On the original “Green Hornet” radio series, Kato was a Filipino houseboy of Japanese ancestry. This fact was revealed two years before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor (according to John Dunning‘s Encyclopedia of Old Radio Programs). Consequently (according to some sources) Kato’s Japanese heritage was allegedly downplayed. during the war. Tokutaro Hayashi (later “renamed Raymond Toyo by director James Jewell for professional reasons”). voiced the Kato character on the radio. TRIVIA NOTE: Bruce Lee died in 1973 at the age of 33 but not before becoming a cult figure in such movies as Enter the Dragon (1973). Tragically, some twenty years later Bruce Lee's son, Brandon Lee (himself an action film hero) died on the set of the movie The Crow (1993) when live ammo from a prop handgun discharged, killing him instantly. In April of 1993 Brandon Lee was buried next to his father in Seattle, Washington. That same year the film Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story debuted starring Jason Scott Lee in a convincing biographical drama about the life of Bruce Lee. Eerily, the storyline included a family curse wherein death stalked members of the Lee family. See also “Longstreet”

HARRY O/ABC/1974-76
**(Keye Luke) Dr. Fong, a Chinese-American amateur criminologist who occasionally assisted Santa Monica based private detective, Harry Orwell.

**(Kam Tong) Hey Boy, a cow-towing, efficient Chinese manservant employed at the San Francisco Hotel Carlton who fetched newspaper, cigars and other items for Paladin, a gentleman gunfighter living at the hotel. Also featured were Lisa Lu as female hotel servant, Hey Girl (during the 1960-61 season); and W. Beal Wong as Hey's Boy's uncle Sing Wo, owner of Sing Wo's Chinese Laundry (on one episode).

**(Kam Fong) Detective Chin Ho Kelly, a Chinese immigrant who worked for the special state police investigation unit called Hawaii Five-O. Chin Ho Kelly was killed by mobsters on the final episode of the 1977-78 season. Also featured was Che Fong, the Chinese forensic scientist who help Five-O with its investigations. Che Fong was played by three different actors. Edward Tom in an uncredited role in episode No. 5 "...And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin"; Daniel Kamekona on episode No. 29 "A Bullet for McGarrett"; and starting on episode No. 38 "Blind Tiger," Harry Endo took over the role of Che Fong from 1970-77. Once when McGarett offered his insight on a case, Che Fong remarked "Very good, and your not even Chinese."

**(Jonathan Ke Quan) Jasper Kwong, an Asian-American student attending the Individual Honors Program at a New York City high school during the 1990-91 season.

**(Harold Sakata) Cheng, huge oriental servant in the service of Frances Kiskadden, a mad scientist working on stolen corpses on an island off the coast of Massachusetts.

**(Harold Fong) Fong (also given as Ahting), a Chinese houseboy employed by American journalist based in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. Fong was replaced by Ling (Gerald Jann) soon after the series began. Ching Mei later joined the cast as Mai Tai Sing, hostess of the Golden Dragon Cafe.

**(James Hong) Frank Chen, a Chinese-American police officer working with Los Angeles detective John St. John, a meticulous criminal investigator.

*(Khigh Dhiegh) Judge Dee, a Chinese judge/detective who lived in 7th century China. This was the first time a TV movie was produced with all Asian actors. Cast included Mako, Soon-Taik Oh, Miiko Taka, Irene Tsu, James Hong, and Keye Luke. The film was based on the novel Judge Dee at the Haunted Monastery by Robert Van Gulick. See also KHAN

**(Keone Young) Dr. Michael Kwan, a Chinese-American physician working on the surgical team at a large metropolitan hospital in Manhattan.

*(Ricky Der/costar) Dwight Eisenhower "Ike" Wong, a nine-year old Chinese orphan adopted by Southern California veterinarian/rancher. Local Chinese neighbors included Cherylene Lee as Annie Ng; Arthur Wong as Mr. Ng; and Keye Luke as Thomas Wong.

*(Khigh Dhiegh) Khan, a San Francisco private detective based in Chinatown. Other cast included Irene Yah-Ling Sun as Khan's criminologist daughter, Anna, a biophysics student as San Francisco State; and Evan Kim as Kim Khan, Khan's son. This series was the first to feature an all Asian-American cast in starring roles. (Khigh Dheigh refused billing as the star of the series). Besides his acting credits Khigh Dhiegh taught philosophy at UCLA and was once an owner of Taoist sanctuary in Tempe, Arizona. His real name was allegedly Kenneth Dickerson and. although he was well-known for playing Oriental villains, Dhiegh was born in Spring Lake, New Jersey and was of Anglo-Egyptian Sudanese descent. He died of a heart attack and liver failure ailments on October 25, 1991 at the age of 81 in Chandler, Arizona. See also HAWAII FIVE-O.

KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75
*(David Carradine) Kwai Chang Caine, a half-American, half-Chinese orphan adopted by a Shaolin monastery in the Hunan Province of China. Raised as a Buddist Monk, Caine later fled China to American West of the 1880's when he killed the Royal Nephew of the Chinese Emperor. The program utilized a number of flashback scenes to Caine's life at the monastery where he interacted with a variety of Chinese monks including: Keye Luke as the blind Master Po; and Philip Ahn as Master Kan. Other cast included John Leoning as Master Teh; Stephen Manley as Caine (age 6); and Radamas Pera as Caine (as teenager). The series was followed by a CBS movie KUNG FU: THE MOVIE (2/1/86) with Caine fighting an evil warlord played by Mako; and the spin-off TV pilot KUNG FU: THE NEXT GENERATION/CBS/1987 (aired on SUMMER PLAYHOUSE) starring David Darlow as Kwai Chang Caine, a modern-day descendent and his son Johnny played by Brandon Lee the real son of Bruce Lee. Later in 1993, a first-run syndicated series revived the show as KUNG FU: THE LEGEND CONTINUES/SYN/1993-97 with David Carradine playing Caine, the grandson of the original Kwai Chang Caine; Chris Potter as Caine's son, Peter Caine, a police officer; Kim Chan as an elderly Shaolin priest (a Shambala Master) called "The Ancient" who ran the local apothecary shop in Chinatown; .Nathaniel Moreau as young Peter in flashbacks; and Ernest Abuba as Tan, a former Shaolin monk and enemy of Peter's father.

**(Bruce Lee) Li Tsung, an oriental self-defense instructor who taught martial arts to Mike Longstreet, a blind insurance investigator.

**(Warren Nsien) Joe Suie, an oriental pilot who belonged to the Flying Tigers, a group of volunteer American pilots stationed in China to battle the attacking Japanese Zeros aircraft. The back of Joe's jacket as all the Flying Tigers displayed the image of the Chinese flag. Each of the Flying Tigers received $500 each for every Aero they downed. On February 22, 1999, the PBS ninety minute documentary "Fei-Hu: The Story of the Flying Tigers" examined the history of AVG flight group. The Chinese words "Fei-Hu" translates "Shark's Teeth."

**(James Yagi/Johnny Lee) Charlie Wong, a Chinese-American businessman and owner of "Charlie Wong's Ice Cream Parlor," an after school hangout of Dobie Gillis and his teenage friends from Central High School. The shop sold "31 Celestial Flabors."

*(Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) Captain Sammo Law, the best policeman in China, chases a master criminal from Shanghai to Los Angeles and ends up joining the LAPD. Sammo doesn't carry a gun but his formidable barrel-chest and his martial arts skills helps to get him out of troubles. According to the grapevine it took seven cops to replace Sammo when he left China (two of which had to retire from exhaustion). Sammo Hung was born in Hong Kong, the oldest of four children. With a 220-pound, 5-foot-7 frame, Hung looks "like Dennis Franz and moves like Bruce Lee." Also featured was Kelly Hu as Grace Chen (Pei Pei), a streetwise martial arts trained police detective. See also NASH BRIDGES

*(Dennis Dun/costar) Billy Po, radio producer/engineer of Chinese descent working at a late night radio talk show broadcast in San Francisco. Billy Po was an intelligent Asian with none of the stereotypical trappings (e.g. funny accent).

*(Philip Ahn/costar) Po Chang, a wealthy Chinese gentleman who raised Caucasian, Frank Garlund, now a successful international business tycoon. Kam Tong played Kam Chang, his foster brother who owned a pawn shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. The title of series later changed to THE GARLUND TOUCH.

MR. MAGOO/SYN/1960-62/NBC/1964-65/CBS/1977-79
**(Cartoon Character) Charlie, an oriental houseboy who worked for the near-sighted senior citizen, Mr. Magoo (or as Charlie would say "Mr. Maglue"). His character was a stereotype with the long braided pony-tail and large beaver-toothed smile.

(Jeff Meek as Raven) Kung Lao, a humble exiled Chinese warrior monk who fought to save the Earth realm from the evil minions of the dark realm call Outworld. Other cast included as Shang Tsung, an evil banished underworld Lord serving the Emperor Shou Khan. Jeff Meek as Raven, god of thunder, protector of the Earth realm; Siro and a thief Taja.

*(Irene Ng) Shelby Woo, a 16-year old Asian-American heroine who lives with her grandfather, Mike Woo, a former cop (Pat Morita) and works as a desk clerk after school at the local police station, where she finds ways to get involved in investigations. During the 1998-99 season Shelby moves with her grandpa from Cocoa Beach, Florida to a Boston suburb on the series' fourth season opener. In 1989, Irene Ng (pronounced Ung) moved from Malaysia to Allentown, Pa. where her father managed a Chinese restaurant. Additional credits included a four month role on the ABC soap ALL MY CHILDREN and later the motion pictures "The Joy Luck Club" and "Heaven & Earth."

*(Marvin Miller) Dr Yat Fu, a Chinese-American merchant and amateur criminologist who owned a herb & curio shop in San Francisco's Chinatown. Marvin Miller was a Caucasian actor. Also featured was Gloria Sanders as Ah Toy, Yat's beautiful niece and shop assistant who occasionally helped him solve crimes.

*(Kelly Hu/costar) Michelle Chan, a streetwise Chinese-American police detective (1996-98 season) who assisted white police detective Nash Bridges and his Mexican-American partner at the Special Investigators Unit in San Francisco. Before she began her career as an actress, Kelly Hu was the 1985 Miss Teen USA and later represented her native state of Hawaii in the Miss USA Pageant. Hu has a brown belt in karate, having been introduced to martial arts as a young girl by her brother, a captain in the U.S. Army. She was born in Honolulu of Chinese, Hawaiian and English ancestry.

*(James Pax/costar) Jimmy Kee, an Asian-American member of a five man team of Las Vegas narcotic officers known as the Nasty Boys. James Pax's (his real name was Jimmy Kee) was a native of Hong Kong, a graduate of the New York University Business School and a former movie star in Asia.

*(J. Carrol Naish) Charlie Chan, Chinese detective whose patient, deductive reasoning always cracked the case. Oriental actor James Hong starred as Chan's "Number one" son, Barry. J.Carrol Naish (an Irish actor) was one of a long line of non-Chinese actors to portray this oriental sleuth, including Warner Oland, Sydney Toler, and Roland Winters. The character of Charlie Chan was created by Earl Derr Biggers and inspired by the real Honolulu detective, Chang Apana.

ONE WORLD/NBC/1998-2001
**(Michelle Krusiec) Sui, Asian-American girl adopted into a multi-racial family supervised by Caucasian Dave Blake and his wife, Karen. She is always looking for fun., whether it’s competing in soccer tournaments or just shopping at the mall with her friends. Michelle Krusiec was born in Fallon, Nevada, speaks Mandarin Chinese and frequently traveled to Taiwan to visit family.

*(Mia Korf/costar) Asian female ex-con recruited by FBI experimental undercover unit that employed streetwise felons to bring down criminals.

**(Brian Tochi) Dragon, tough Asian gang leader (Shanghai Shieks Gang) who teamed with six other street gang leaders (under the supervision of a big city cop) to form a group of crime fighting youths. Peter Kwong played the role of Dragon in the 1982 Made-for TV movie that inspired the series.

*(Tia Carrere) Sydney Fox, an unorthodox History Professor of Asian descent working for Trinity College on the East Coast. Sydney moonlights as an explorer, crisscrossing the globe in pursuit of fabled lost treasures and rare stolen artifacts. She is skilled in the martial arts and in high demand by a variety of employers: secret government agencies, private collectors, museum curators, etc. Sydney's father was a civil engineer, designing and building bridges, roads and structures the world over. He met his wife, a beautiful Asian woman, while working in the Far East, The family stayed in the East for a few years, but after Sydney’s mother died, she traveled with her father and thus became familiar with different cultures and languages.

**(Noriyuki Pat Morita) Ah Chew, Asian-American neighbor of a black Watts junk dealer, who was introduced during the 1974-74 season. Morita also appeared on the sitcom HAPPY DAYS/ABC/1974-84 as the Arnold (Matsuo Takahashi), the owner of a Milwaukee drive-in restaurant called Arnold's.

**(Dustin Nguyen) Chief William Shan, naval officer onboard the submarine SeaQuest that roamed the oceans of the near future. Shan’s character appeared in episodes 19-22 during the 1993-94 season.

*(Ming-Na Wen/costar) Trudy Sloane, Asian-American woman who worked for a New York art gallery and was married to Sam Sloane, a sound recording engineer. Ming-Na Wen was born in Macau, China and raised in the Pennsylvanian town of Mount Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

*(Joel de la Fuente/costar) Lt. Paul Wang, an Asian soldier part of a squadron of United States Marine space warriors sent into space to battle an unknown enemy attacking the planet Earth in the year 2063 A.D. Joel de la Fuente is actually Filipino.

**(Garrett Wang) Ensign Harry Kim, Starfleet communication officer of Asian-American descent who served aboard Voyager, a starship marooned on the far side of the galaxy. Garrett Wang (whose last name is pronounced “Wong.”) graduated high school from Harding Academy in Memphis, TN and studied at UCLA.

**(Vivian Wu) Shadowy Asian woman who doled out doses of a mystery drug that kept former army scientist (afflicted with a deadly Gulf War syndrome) alive so he could do her bidding by investigating and exposing criminal abuses of science.

**(Maggie Han) Cassie Lee, a sexy Asian-American assistant headmaster of an exclusive all-white boarding school for boys. One night when she entered the boy's dorm wearing a provocative outfit, she said "I love the sound of expanding khaki in the evening."

**(Gloria Saunders) Lai Choi San, aka "The Dragon Lady," an evil Eurasian female who was often at odds with American aviators who had come to the orient in search of a lost gold mine.

*(Tracy Ullman) Mrs. Noh Nang Ning, Asian donut shop owner, who relates everything to the donut; and one of many characters created by white British comedian and impressionist Tracy Ullman.

**(Joan Chen) Jocelyn "Josie" Packard, the widow of Andrew Packard, an American lumberman who left his sawmill to his newly married Chinese wife. Described as "one of the most beautiful women in the state," Josie was considered an outsider by most, but found support and love in the arms of the local sheriff. Joan Chen was born in Shanghai. Her part was originally written to be an Italian.

*(Russell Wong) Jian Wa Chang, a Chinese musician (a violinist) and martial arts experts who is falsely accused of killing two federal agents. He spends the majority of the series escaping the clutches of agents from the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Asian Crime Task Force while trying to prove his innocence. The show's opening narration intoned "Running from oppression, yearning for freedom, he came to America. But when he is falsely accused of murder, he must run again searching for the truth...the hunter and the hunted." The series was based on the 1994 syndicated made-for-TV movie of the same name.

**(Dustin Nguyen) Johnny Loh, Asian stuntman/actor who escaped from the Hong Kong mob to America. On occasion, he assists the Los Angeles-based security professionals at Vallery Irons Protection.

**(Leila Hee Olsen) Yung Hi, a shy Chinese immigrant female who attended night school in Los Angeles with a number of other foreigners studying for their citizenship. Translated, her name meant: "Petal of wild flower blossoming in sun, then wither and die and gone forever."

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