‘Momentous’: Actor Anna May Wong to be first Asian American on U.S. currency
More than 60 years after Anna May Wong became the first Asian American woman to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the pioneering actor has coined another first, quite literally.
For her contribution to the film industry, Anna May Wong received a star at 1708 Vine Street on the inauguration of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. She was the first Asian American actress to receive this honor. She is also depicted larger-than-life as one of the four supporting pillars of the “Gateway to Hollywood” sculpture located on the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, with the actresses Dolores del Río (Hispanic American), Dorothy Dandridge (African American), and Mae West (White American).
Actress Anna May Wong, a great figure in the Hollywood film industry, will make history by being the first Asian American to be featured on US currency. According to the United States Mint, the face of Wong’s quarter will feature a portrait of George Washington on the observe (heads) side, while the reverse (tails) side will feature a depiction of Wong’s head resting on her hand along with her full name and the flashing lights of a marquee sign. George Washington’s image will be on the tail side of Wong’s quarter.
Wong achieved widespread renown during the course of her career, during which she acted in more than sixty films, including one of the earliest pictures to be produced in Technicolor. In 1951 she made history by becoming the first Asian American woman to host a television show in the United States. The show she hosted was called “The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong.”
Wong, born in Los Angeles, was considered the first Chinese-American film star. She is one of five women chosen to appear on the quarter as part of the the US Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, which honours American women who have made a contribution to a multitude of different fields.
Wong consistently faced discrimination in Hollywood. She was passed over for at least one role by a director who cast a white actor to play an Asian character in yellowface, and travelled overseas to act and make films later in her career. She acted in England, Germany, and France, as well as on stages in New York and London. During World War II, Wong endeavoured to help the Chinese cause against Japan.
Wong was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960, just prior to her death of a heart attack at the age of 56 the following year. Per the US Mint, she is remembered as “an international film star, fashion icon, television trailblazer, and a champion for greater representation of Asian Americans in film.”
Image courtesy Vintage Everyday, Pinterest, Washington Independent, Floyd B. Bariscale / Flickr and PBS