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He fled Hong Kong in 1940 during the Japanese invasion of China and ended up in San Francisco, California, where he joined the US Air Force and learned English. Wong served in both China and India until he was discharged due to war injuries. He then established himself in New York City; afterwards he began his lifelong bartending career. Over the years he has served celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, who he remarked "...was very nice", and Judy Garland, "...[who] was lovely. She liked to drink. She liked it a lot." He also served Joe DiMaggio, John Lennon, and Henry Kissinger.
He worked at the Algonquin Hotel, the age of which is similar to his own, as it is the oldest still operating in the city. He was commemorated for his 27 years of work in 2006, which made headlines; some of the over 300 guests at the ceremony were previous customers, including some who were underage at the time. Wong had served them anyway and they came to give him thanks. When asked about his longevity and how he still manages to keep so busy and healthy he remarked, "Not many secrets. Eat right, take a nap and every day get exercise working. Don't worry about money. I don't plan to retire. I love my job. I love to meet people. President Bush needs money, he needs income taxes, so I will help."
Hoy Wong retired in 2009.
- Joel Meares (December 28, 2009). "New York’s veteran waiters aren’t going anywhere". NY Foodchain. Archived from the original on January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015.