|Born||April 5, 1927
Shanxi Province, China
|Died||October 16, 2010 (aged 83)
Granada Hills, California
|Years active||1948, 1964–2008|
Chao-Li Chi (Chinese: 冀朝理; April 5, 1927 – October 16, 2010) was a Shanxi-born actor and dancer, who worked extensively in American television, including his best known role as Chao Li, the faithful major domo and chauffeur of Jane Wyman's character in Falcon Crest. Additionally, his film credits include Big Trouble in Little China, The Joy Luck Club, The Nutty Professor, Wedding Crashers and The Prestige. He was featured in the short film by Maya Deren, Meditation on Violence, in 1948.
Early life and education
Chi was born in Shanxi, China, on April 5, 1927. He settled in New York City in 1939 with his family, including his younger brother Ji Chaozhu, as refugees from the Japanese invasion of China. He obtained a bachelor's degree from St. John's College, in Annapolis, MD. Chi also earned a master's degree from New York University and a second master's degree from The New School, which was known as the New School for Social Research at the time.
Chi began studying acting under Pearl S. Buck at the East and West Association. He appeared as the lead performer in Maya Deren's 1948 film, Meditation on Violence. He continued to perform with Deren dance companies into the 1960s. In 1967, Chi became the Dance Director of the Living Arts Program in Dayton, Ohio, while touring with Deren.
Chi appeared in approximately fifty-one film and television roles during the course of his career. On television, Chi was perhaps best known for his role as Chao-Li in the 1980s soap opera Falcon Crest which aired for nine years on CBS. His other television credits included parts on M*A*S*H and Pushing Daisies. Chi's film credits included The Joy Luck Club, Big Trouble in Little China, The Prestige and Wedding Crashers. His theater credits included the travelling production of Flower Drum Song.
Chi moved to Los Angeles in 1975. A practicing Taoist, Chi co-founded the Taoist Sanctuary, which is now known as the Taoist Institute, in Hollywood. He taught courses in Tao Te Ching, I Ching, philosophy and T'ai chi at California State University, Los Angeles and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. He also taught T'ai chi at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, California, on Saturdays for more than thirty years.