Barbara Jean Wong
|Barbara Jean Wong|
Barbara Jean Wong with Walter Pidgeon in 1942
March 3, 1924|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||November 13, 1999
Tarzana, California, U.S.
She was a fourth-generation Chinese-American born in Los Angeles, California, to produce market owners Thomas and Maye Wong. She began her performance career at the age of five, as she could read and had a clear voice, and was soon dubbed the Chinese-American Shirley Temple because of her long black hair curled into ringlets and her charming persona. In 1937, as a voice actress, she began performing in programs for CBS. She played Judy Barton, one of the twins in the children's Christmas old time radio show The Cinnamon Bear. She was heard on several episodes of the Lux Radio Theater, Hallmark Playhouse/Hallmark Hall of Fame, Cavalcade of America, Three Thirds of a Nation, and many other shows. Her biggest radio role was on the comedy show Amos 'n' Andy, in which she played Amos' daughter Arbadella.
She attended the University of Southern California (USC) and Columbia University to earn degrees in drama and English. After college, Jean (she used her middle name) began working in the movies and worked in 20 films, including The Good Earth, The Man from Button Willow, and the Charlie Chan movie Charlie Chan in Honolulu, in which she played the part of Charlie Chan's Number Three daughter. Her last role was uncredited, a nurse in the epic motion picture Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. Her featured-part movie career lasted from 1938 to 1955. In most of her movies, she was a backdrop, serving only as part of the scenery.
When Barbara Jean was married, she retired from acting and earned her teaching credentials from Cal State Los Angeles to begin serving her community as a teacher. She died of respiratory illness on November 13, 1999, in Tarzana, California, aged 75.
- Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938)—Number Three Chan Daughter
- The Red Dragon (1946)—Iris Ling
- The Trap (1946)—San Toy
- The Chinese Ring (1947)—Princess Mei Ling
- Chinatown at Midnight (1949)—Betty Chang