Beulah Quo

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Beulah Quo
Bessie Loo.jpg
Beulah Quo and agent Bessie Loo.
Born Beulah Ong
April 17, 1923
Stockton, California, U.S.
Died (aged 79)
La Mesa, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress, activist
Years active 1955-2002
Spouse(s) Edwin Kwoh (?-2002) (her death) (2 children)
Children Stewart Kwoh
Mary Ellen Shu [1]

Beulah Quo (April 17, 1923 – October 23, 2002) was a Chinese-American actress and activist born in Stockton, California. The spelling of her last name changed from Kwoh to Quo because she was constantly asked if KWOH was a radio station.[2] She starred in many films and television series beginning in the mid-1950s, and was best known for her appearances in General Hospital (1963), Chinatown (1974), and Brokedown Palace (1999).[3] She was also an advocate of more and better screen roles for Asian actors, and founded several organizations in pursuit of that goal.

Early life[edit]

Quo received a bachelor's degree in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley and a master's degree from the University of Chicago. In the 1940s, while she was working in China as a teacher, Quo escaped Communism on a U.S. destroyer along with her husband, Edwin Kwoh, and infant son. After resettling, she also worked at the Chinese YWCA building, which is now the Chinese American National Museum and Learning Center.[4]

Television and film career[edit]

While teaching sociology at a community college in Los Angeles, California, director Henry King was looking for an Asian dialect coach and instead hired Quo to play a small role in Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1953). She played over 100 roles in television movies and series, as well as film. One of her notable television roles was in General Hospital, where she stayed for six years and played a housekeeper and confidante named Olin starting in 1963. Uncredited appearances that she made throughout her career in her earlier work included her first film, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Two Weeks In Another Town (1962), and Gypsy (1962). Her final featured film role was in Forbidden City in 2001 as Mrs. Lee; her last television appearance was in a 2002 episode of Law and Order: Criminal Intent.[5]

Quo co-starred in a made-for-television drama, An Apple, An Orange a story of two immigrants and their differences in cultural, sociological and philosophical viewpoints while in midlife.[6] The program, produced by Maryland Public TV in association with Baltimore's Center Stage was telecast nationally in prime time on PBS. It aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The author and dramatist, Diane Johnson, won an O. Henry Award for the story on which it was based.[7]

Activism[edit]

In 1965, The East West Players, the first Asian-American repertory theater in the U.S., was co-founded by Quo and eight other actors, including James Hong.[8] The East West Players continues to advocate for diverse representation and elimination of stereotypes of Asian-Americans in Hollywood and across mass media.

Quo was heavily involved in the high-profile and racially driven Vincent Chin case, producing a play to honor him entitled Carry The Tiger To The Mountain in July 1998.[9] It was based on a true story of a Chinese-American man who was beaten to death in Detroit, Michigan, in 1982 by two white men who had mistaken him for a Japanese man. It premiered in West Virginia; Quo played Chin's mother, Lily Chin. The play was later performed in Los Angeles by the East West Players.

In 1997, Quo commissioned a musical project called "Heading East: California Asian Pacific American Experience" to promote and commemorate the history of Asian-Pacific Americans in California for the past 150 years.[10]

Quo continued to dismiss any statements that Asians in leading roles are not "bankable", pointing out that Haing S. Ngor, cast in The Killing Fields (1984), won the Oscar for best supporting actor, while Pat Morita was nominated for the same award for his role in The Karate Kid (1984).[2]

Awards, nominations and honors[edit]

1978: Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Single Performance by a supporting actress in Meeting of Minds. Quo also co-narrated the audiobook version.[11][12]

1990: "The Jimmie" Lifetime Achievement Award by the Asian Pacific American Artists, for her outstanding work on The Sand Pebbles (1966), MacArthur (1977), and Chinatown (1974). She also won a local Emmy award for her achievements on "James Wong Howe – The Man and His Movies", a documentary on the award-winning cinematographer James Wong Howe.[13]

Death[edit]

On October 23, 2002, Beulah Quo died of heart failure during emergency cardiac surgery in La Mesa, California at the age of 79. She was survived by her husband, Edwin; her daughter, Mary Ellen Shu; her son, Stewart Kwoh; and five grandchildren.[14]

The East West Players have a Beulah Quo and Edwin Kwoh Endowment set up to promote theater education.[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

Films and television appearances are from IMDb.

Year Title Role Notes
1955 Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing Third Aunt Film, Uncredited
1961 Ada Wife of Chinese Restaurant Proprietor Film, Uncredited
1961 Flower Drum Song Woman Film, Uncredited
1962 Two Weeks in Another Town Chinese Woman Film, Uncredited
1962 Gypsy Waitress Film, Uncredited
1963 Girls! Girls! Girls! Madam Yung Film
1964 The 7th Dawn Ah Ming Film
1966 The Sand Pebbles Mama Chunk Film
1970–1971 The Bill Cosby Show Second Teacher / Mrs. Rogers TV Series
1971 The Rome with Love Mrs. Okada TV Series
1971 If Tomorrow Comes Midori TV movie
1972 The Smith Family Anna TV Series
1973 Voyage of the Yes Native Nurse TV movie
1973 Hawaii Five-O Madame Souvang TV Series
1973 Genesis II Primus Lu-Chan TV movie
1974 Love, American Style Lu See TV Series
1974 Chinatown Maid Film
1973–1974 Adam-12 Mrs. Tohito / Mrs. Hong Toy TV Series
1975 Police Story The Supervisor TV Series
1975 The Last Survivors Mrs. Peters TV movie
1973–1975 Kung Fu Madam Chun / Mai Chi / Soong's Wife TV Series
1976 S.W.A.T. Madame Yang TV Series
1976 City of Angels unknown TV Series
1977 Starsky and Hutch Dr. Quo TV Series
1977 Baretta Mrs. Chu TV Series
1977 MacArthur Ah Cheu Film
1977 Black Market Baby Mrs. Yamato TV movie
1978 Meeting of Minds Tz'u-Hsi / Empress Tz'u-Hsi TV Series
1978 The Immigrants So-Toy TV movie
1979 How the West Was Won Ah Kam TV Series
1979 Samurai Hana Mitsubishi Cantrell TV movie
1980 The Children of An Lac Madame Ngai TV movie
1981 The Incredible Hulk Huyn TV Series
1982 The Letter Ong's Mother TV movie
1982 Yes, Giorgio Mei Ling Film
1982 Quincy M.E. Mrs. Inoko TV Series
1982 Magnum, P.I. Mrs. Iko Tamura TV Series
1982-1983 Marco Polo Empress Chabi TV Mini-Series
1985 Airwolf Mae's Mother TV Series
1985 Street Hawk Auntie Pearl TV Series
1985 Into the Night Mrs. Yakamura Film
1985 The Lady from Yesterday Mai Ling Luong TV movie
1986 MacGyver Mrs. Chung TV Series
1986 Scarecrow and Mrs. King unknown TV Series
1986 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Herbalist TV Series
1986 Beverly Hills Madam Lil's maid TV movie
1986 American Geisha Kangoro's Mother TV movie
1987 Daniel and the Towers Lynn Chow TV movie
1987 Le palanquin des larmes Mime Chen Film
1988 Hunter Mrs. Chin TV Series
1990 Forbidden Nights Vice Dean Yin TV movie
1994 Bad Girls Chinese Herbalist Film
1995 Bless This House Old Woman TV Series
1996 Suddenly Susan Dr. Ni TV Series
1998 Brimstone Landlady TV Series
1999 ER Grandma Fong TV Series
1999 Brokedown Palace Guard Velie Film
2000 Chicago Hope Grandmother Wang TV Series
2000 The Michael Richards Show Mai TV Series
2001 Forbidden City Mrs. Lee Short
2002 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Cecilia Wang TV Series, (final appearance)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ McLellan, Dennis (25 October 2002). "Beulah Quo, 79; Actress Started East West Players". Retrieved 20 November 2017 – via LA Times. 
  2. ^ a b "Beulah Quo, 79; Actress Started East West Players". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ "Beulah Quo Biography - Fandango". Fandango. 
  4. ^ Wong, Gerrye (November 6, 2002). "Community Mourns Sudden Death of APA Actress: Beulah Quo; April 17, 1923 – Oct 23, 2002". Asian Week. 
  5. ^ "Beulah Quo". IMDb. 
  6. ^ "Eugene Register-Guard - Google News Archive Search". google.com. 
  7. ^ "The O. Henry Prize Stories". www.randomhouse.com. Retrieved 20 November 2017. 
  8. ^ "About". East West Players. 
  9. ^ Horwitz, Jane, Washington Post "Taming the 'Tiger,' In Shepherdstown, WVA, Beulah Quo Sinks Her Teeth Into a Fiercely Demanding Role", 7/21/1998
  10. ^ http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/jaas/summary/v003/3.1liu.html Liu, Judith, "Heading East: California's Asian Pacific Experience," Journal of Asian American Studies. Vol 3, No.1, Pages 122-123 (2000)
  11. ^ "Meeting of Minds: Volume 7 by Steve Allen on Audio Download". learnoutloud.com. 
  12. ^ "Beulah Quo". Television Academy. 
  13. ^ "Articles about James Wong Howe - Los Angeles Times". latimes.com. 
  14. ^ "Beulah Kwoh ( - 2000) - Find A Grave Memorial". findagrave.com. 

External links[edit]