Lisa Lu

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Lisa Lu
Lu in 2007
Lu Pingxiang (盧萍香)[citation needed]

(1927-01-19) January 19, 1927 (age 97)
CitizenshipUnited States
Years active1958–present
SpouseShelling Hwong
Children3, including Lucia Hwong
AwardsFull list
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese盧燕
Simplified Chinese卢燕
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese盧萍香
Simplified Chinese盧萍香

Lisa Lu Yan[a] (former name Lu Pingxiang[b]; January 19, 1927) is a Chinese-American actress. She has worked extensively in Hong Kong, American, and mainland Chinese film and television since her debut in 1958.[1] She won the Golden Horse Awards three times, twice for Best Leading Actress and once for Best Supporting Actress, in the 1970s. She is the only person who is a member of both the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[2]

Lisa Lu in 1960

Early life and education[edit]

Lu was born in Beijing in 1927,[3] and was the adopted daughter of noted Chinese opera (Kunqu) performer Mei Lanfang. Her mother, Li Guifen, was also a Kunqu singer. Lu followed her parents footsteps and began performing in Kunqu as a teenager. She attended a primary school run by English missionaries, and became adept in the English language from an early age.[4]

She attended St. John's University, Shanghai, however her studies were interrupted by the Chinese Civil War and she and her family moved to Taiwan. She studied business administration at National Chiao Tung University, and then financial management at the University of Hawaiʻi, as well as drama and speech. During her studies, she worked as an accountant, laboratory technician radio announcer, and translator in Honolulu.[5]

In 1956, Lu and her family moved to Los Angeles, and she joined the Pasadena Playhouse. She made her professional stage debut in 1958, in a production of The Teahouse of the August Moon.


During the 1958–59 television season, she had a recurring role as Miss Mandarin on the cult western show Yancy Derringer, set in New Orleans in 1868. In 1961 she had a recurring role as "Hey Girl" on the television series Have Gun – Will Travel. She made numerous other appearances on television, with guest starring roles on Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Richard Boone Show, The Virginian, Hawaiian Eye, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Rebel, Cheyenne, Bat Masterson, Kentucky Jones, and other shows.

In 1960, she was the female lead in the antiwar film The Mountain Road, which starred James Stewart and which was based on the novel of the same name by the China war correspondent Theodore H. White. Her film career took off in the 1970s with supporting roles in films like Demon Seed and Peter Bogdanovich's Saint Jack. During this time she achieved prominence in the Mandarin-language Hong Kong film industry, winning two Best Actress Golden Horse Awards for the films The 14 Amazons and The Last Tempest.

She became known during this time for playing the Qing Empress Dowager Cixi, in The Empress Dowager and The Last Tempest, which would become her signature role. Years later, she would play the same character in the Best Picture Oscar-winning film The Last Emperor (1987) and the Chinese television series Qianlong Dynasty.

For the remainder of her career, Lu alternated between theatre and film. She may be best known by English-speaking audiences for her roles in the 1988 TV miniseries Noble House, and the films The Last Emperor (1987), The Joy Luck Club (1993), and Crazy Rich Asians (2018).[6]

Lu also attempted to popularise Chinese opera in the United States, touring universities and performing in English.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Lu was married to Shelling Hwong until his death in 1996. They had three children, including composer Lucia Hwong.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1958 Panda and the Magic Serpent Bai-Niang
1960 The Mountain Road Madame Sue-mei Hung [9]
1962 Rider on a Dead Horse Ming Kwai
Womanhunt Li Sheng [10]
1970 The Arch (董夫人) Madame Tung or Madam Dong WonGolden Horse Award for Best Actress.[11][12]
1972 The 14 Amazons (十四女英豪) She Saihua WonGolden Horse Award for Best Supporting Actress
1973 Terror in the Wax Museum Madame Yang
1975 The Empress Dowager (傾國傾城) Empress Dowager Cixi WonGolden Horse Award for Best Actress
1976 The Last Tempest (瀛台泣血) Empress Dowager Cixi
The Star (星語) Chen Lianyu
1977 The Eternal Love (永恆的愛)
Demon Seed Soon Yen
1979 Saint Jack Mrs. Yates
1982 Hammett Miss Cameron's Assistant
Don't Cry, It's Only Thunder Sister Marie
1983 Sewing Woman Narrator Short.[13]
1986 Tai-Pan Ah Gip
1987 The Last Emperor (末代皇帝溥儀) Empress Dowager Cixi
1989 The Last Aristocrats (最後的貴族) Li' mother [14]
The Heroine in Northeast (關東女俠) Yi Pinhong
1990 Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes Mrs. Sato
1993 The Joy Luck Club An-mei Hsu [6]
Temptation of a Monk (誘僧) Shi's Mother
1994 I Love Trouble Mrs. Virginia Hervey [15]
1998 Blindness Mrs. Hong
2000 Sworn Revenge (撞鬼你之血光之災) Ling
2002 Tomato and Eggs Mrs. Wang
2005 Beauty Remains (美人依舊) Woman gambler
2006 The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (姨媽的後現代生活) Mrs. Shui Nominated—Chinese Film Media Award for Best Supporting Actress
2007 Invisible Target (男兒本色) Wai King-ho's grandmother Cameo
Lust, Caution (色,戒) Mahjong partner of Aunt
2009 Dim Sum Funeral Mrs. Xiao
2012 Grandmother Sonam
2010 Somewhere Chinese journalist [16]
Apart Together (團圓) Qiao Yu'e
2012 Dangerous Liaisons (危險關係) Madam Du Ruixue
2018 Crazy Rich Asians Shang Su Yi
2023 Rally Road Racers Granny Bai Voice role[17]


Year Title Role Notes
1958 Have Gun - Will Travel - "Hey Boy's Revenge" Kim Li Hey Boy's sister
1959 Bachelor Father - "Peter Meets his Match" & "Peter Gets Jury Notice" Linda Toy Love interest for Peter Tong (Sammee Tong)
1960 The Rebel - "Blind Marriage" Quong Lia Played daughter of Quong Lee (Philip Ahn)
1960 Have Gun - Will Travel - Recurring Role (Season 4) Hey Girl Unknown if this character is still Hey Boy's sister
1961 Bonanza - "Day of the Dragon" Su Ling Appeared alongside Philip Ahn, Benson Fong, Richard Loo, and Victor Sen Yung
1961 The Dick Powell Show - "Three Soldiers" The Prisoner
1961 Bat Masterson - "Terror of the Trinity " Hsieh-Lin
1962 Cheyenne - "Pocket Full of Stars" Mei Ling
1964 My Three Sons
"The Lotus Blossom"
1965 Kentucky Jones - "The Victim" Su Ling
1968 The Big Valley - "Run of the Cat" Chinese girl
1970 Mission: Impossible - "Butterfly" Mioshi Kellem
1986 China Hand
1988 Noble House Ah Tam
2001 NYPD Blue - "Fools Russian"
2002 Qianlong Dynasty (乾隆王朝) Empress Dowager Chongqing
General Hospital Mrs. Yi
2023 American Born Chinese Ni Yang Episode: "Rockstar Status"
2024 Death and Other Details Celia Chun


  • The Reunion, a Peking Opera. with Lisa Lu and K.S. Chen, Lyrichord, 1972


Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1970 8th Golden Horse Awards Best Actress The Arch Won
1972 10th Golden Horse Awards Best Supporting Actress The 14 Amazons Won
1975 12th Golden Horse Awards Best Actress The Empress Dowager Won
2018 4th Annual Asian World Film Festival Snow Leopard Life Achievement Award Herself Won[3]
2019 9th The Asian Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Crazy Rich Asians Won[18]
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "When a young Lisa Lu acted opposite James Stewart and Marlon Brando". South China Morning Post. November 26, 2023. Retrieved December 5, 2023.
  2. ^ "Golden Globes Analysis: Plenty of Wins and Controversy to Go Around". The Hollywood Reporter. March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Xu, Ting Ting (November 2, 2018). "Lisa Lu Honored with Lifetime Achievement at Asian World Film Festival". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  4. ^ "老上海的女性有種特別的風度". 東方早報 (in Chinese). September 18, 2013.
  5. ^ "交通大学南加州校友会--盧燕學長簡介". June 21, 2006. Archived from the original on June 21, 2006. Retrieved December 7, 2023.
  6. ^ a b Passafiume, Andrea (August 8, 2017). "The Joy Luck Club". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Lisa Odham Stokes, Historical Dictionary of Hong Kong Cinema (2007), pg. 295.
  8. ^ "Lisa Lu". Retrieved August 22, 2019.(incorrect birth date of December 5, 1931)
  9. ^ "The Mountain Road (1960)". 1960. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "Woman Hunt (1962)". 1962. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  11. ^ "Film - The Arch". Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  12. ^ "The Arch (1970)". October 14, 1970. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  13. ^ "Sewing Woman". 1982. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  14. ^ "The Last Aristocrats (1989)". IMDb. 1989. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  15. ^ "I Love Trouble (1994)". IMDb. 1994. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  16. ^ "Somewhere (2010)". IMDb. 2010. Retrieved August 22, 2019.
  17. ^ Grobar, Matt (March 27, 2023). "Viva Kids Takes North America On Animated Family Film 'Rally Road Racers' With Jimmy O. Yang, J.K. Simmons, Chloe Bennet & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 27, 2023.
  18. ^ "Outstanding Achievement in Cinema – CRAZY RICH ASIANS". The Asian Awards. Retrieved October 28, 2019.


  1. ^ simplified Chinese: 卢燕; traditional Chinese: 盧燕; pinyin: Lú Yàn
  2. ^ Chinese: 盧萍香; pinyin: Lú Píng Xiāng

External links[edit]