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Loo, circa 1974
October 1, 1903|
Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A.
|Died||November 20, 1983
Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Cause of death
|San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles, California|
Bessie Loo (1929-1960); divorceHope Loo (1964-1983); his death
Richard Loo (October 1, 1903 - November 20, 1983) was a 3rd generation Chinese-American film actor who was one of the most familiar Asian character actors in American films of the 1930s and 1940s. A prolific actor, he appeared in over 120 films between 1931 and 1982.
Loo was most often typecast as the Japanese enemy pilot, spy or interrogator during the Second World War. Chinese by ancestry and Hawaiian by birth, Loo spent his youth in Hawaii, then moved to California as a teenager. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and began a career in business. However, the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent economic depression forced him to start over. He became involved with amateur, then professional, theater companies and in 1931 made his first film. Like most Asian actors in non-Asian countries, he played primarily small, stereotypical roles, though he rose quickly to familiarity, if not fame, in a number of films.
His stern features led him to be a favorite movie villain, and the outbreak of World War II gave him greater prominence in roles as vicious Japanese soldiers in such successful pictures as The Purple Heart (1944) and God Is My Co-Pilot (1945). According to his daughter, Beverly Jane Loo, he didn't mind being typecast as a villain in these movies as he felt very patriotic about playing those parts.  In 1944 he appeared as a Chinese army lieutenant opposite Gregory Peck in The Keys of the Kingdom. He had a rare heroic role as a war-weary Japanese-American soldier in Samuel Fuller's Korean War classic The Steel Helmet (1951), but he spent much of the latter part of his career performing stock roles in films and minor television roles.
Loo was also a teacher of Shaolin monks in seven episodes of the 1972-1974 hit TV series Kung Fu. His last acting appearance was in The Incredible Hulk TV series in 1981, but he continued to act in Toyota commercials into 1982. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on November 20, 1983.
His first wife, Bessie Loo, was a well-known Hollywood agent. They had twin daughters: Beverly Loo was prominent in publishing while Angela Loo Levy was a Hollywood agent and accomplished ski patroller.
He remained with his second wife, Hope, until his death. His step-daughter, Christel Hope Mintz, was an analyst with Shell Oil Company for 32 years.
- Manila Calling (1942)
- The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) (unbilled)
- The Purple Heart (1944)
- Half Past Midnight (1948)
- The Steel Helmet (1951)
- Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- Soldier of Fortune (1955)
- The Conqueror (1956)
- The Quiet American (1957)