Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Forgotten movie stars - an occasional series: Anna, Nils

Anna May Wong (1905-1961)
The first Chinese-American movie star, a third-generation American, she managed to have a substantial acting career during a deeply racist time when the taboo against miscegenation meant that Caucasian actresses were cast as "Oriental" women in lead parts opposite Caucasian leading men (even Katharine Hepburn in DRAGON SEED in 1944!). The discrimination she faced in the domestic industry caused her to go to Europe for work in English and German films, as in PICCADILLY in 1929 or   Von Sternberg's SHANGHAI EXPRESS with Marlene Dietrich in 1932. One of her final roles was in Ross Hunter's PORTRAIT IN BLACK in 1960 and she was signed to play in Hunter's FLOWER DRUM SONG before her death. 
Her IMDB biography is fascinating showing the racism of the time when Asian women could not be cast opposite white actors or have leading roles in films. Anna should be a major discovery now.  http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0938923/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm

Nils Asther (1897-1981)
Nils was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1897 and raised in Malm√∂, Sweden. He moved to Hollywood in 1927, where his exotic looks landed him romantic roles with co-stars such as Garbo, Pola Negri and Joan Crawford, and his exotic Chinese warlord in THE  BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN with Barbara Stanwyck in 1933. Although his foreign accent was a hindrance in "talkies", his Hollywood career continued until 1934 when he was blacklisted for breaking a contract and went to Britain for four years. After his return to Hollywood in 1938, his career declined and by 1949 he was driving a truck. In 1958, he returned to Sweden, where he remained until his death, making occasional appearances in television and on stage. He was also unabashedly gay at a time when gays remained discreet about their sexual orientation so there was no public suggestion of impropriety.
Next: Charles Farrell, Ramon Novarro, Anton Walbrook - who may not be so forgotten ...

1 comment: