Anna May Wong


  1. Helen Hayes,  The Son-Daughter, 1932.  Wong maintained she was turned  down for the role of Lian Wha because MGM insisted she was “too Chinese to play a Chinese.” So,  they called  up The First Lady of the American Theatre..  way too Caucasian. Like all the other Chinese characters: HB Warner, Ramon Novarro, Werner Oland, Lewis Stone.
  2. Toshia Mori, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, 1932.    Accents are accents…  Hollywood being Hollywood didn’t  care one  jot that while Wong was Chinese  as  the role of Mah-Li – while  Mori was Japanese.
  3. Luise Rainer, The Good Earth, 1937.  Too Chinese again.  Or just, Chinese… And the stupidly censorious Hays Office banned would any hint of miscegenation –  between an actual Chinese woman and a Caucuasian actor in yellow-face drag! Enter: Rainer. the first notable victim of The Oscar Curse – her career nose-dived after being the first (and only) consecutive Best Actress Oscar winner. “For my second and third pictures I won Academy Awards. Nothing worse could have happened to me.”  (Irving Thalberg died during the production, which has his only possessory credit in an MGM film).
  4. Tilly Losch, The Good Earth, 1936.    Wong  then fled from Irving Thalberg’s  compensatory offer of playing the vampy Lotus.  This was the only film with a credit for MGM’s house genius, Irving Thalberg – after his shock death at 36.  His boss, LB Mayer, has told him: “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?”   Thalberg, as usjal, was right – three Oscars from six nominations. 
  5. Juanita Hall, Flower Drum Song, 1961.   Producer Ross Hunter’s original choice for Madame Liang died after a heart attack, at age 56, just before shooting was to begin. She had won 63 screen roles since 1919. The great Juanita, of course, had created the role on Broadway.

 Birth year: 1905Death year: 1961Other name: Casting Calls:  5