|Died||October 27, 1964 (aged 63)|
|Cause of death||Barbiturate overdose|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale|
|Other names||Sammy Tong|
Sammee Tong (April 21, 1901 – October 27, 1964) was an American film and television character actor. One of Tong's more notable roles was that of Peter Tong on the sitcom Bachelor Father, which aired on all three national networks from 1957 to 1962.
Early life and career
Tong attempted to break into acting on the stage during the Depression, forming an act called the Three Celestials that played in neighborhood theaters and was booked into the Los Angeles Orpheum. He found he could not secure acting roles because of his ethnicity. He worked in Chinese nightclubs in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where he sang and performed comedy routines. During his nightclub years, he changed the spelling of his name to "Sammee" because he said it "looked better in print."
Tong signed with Columbia Pictures, and in 1934, he made his film debut in a bit part in the comedy film The Captain Hates the Sea. In 1939 he returned to his home town as director of entertainment at the Chinese Village of San Francisco's World's Fair, and began the first Chinese radio hour on KSAN. Throughout the 1940s, he had small, usually uncredited, roles in films. He returned to Hollywood in the early 1950s and took roles on television.
Tong made his television debut in 1953 in an episode of You Are There. The following year, he appeared in a recurring role as "George, the cook" in a series of television shorts which aired during The Mickey Mouse Club entitled The Adventures of Spin and Marty. In 1955, he reprised his role as George in the feature-length film Spin and Marty: The Movie. He also had a role in the sequel series The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty.
In 1957, he landed a co-starring role in the sitcom Bachelor Father, starring John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran. In the series, Tong portrayed "Peter Tong,” Bentley Gregg's (Forsythe) live-in houseboy and valet. Although he was playing a servant, Tong enjoyed the role stating, "Houseboys in movies and the theater always bow low, mutter a few sing song words and disappear, but not on this show. I get dialogue and laughs."[dead link] In his Bachelor Father role, Tong was not subservient and at one point walked out because he was not paid enough. He spoke with an accent even though the actor was born in the United States.
After Bachelor Father's cancellation in 1962, Tong was cast as Sammy Ling in the ABC sitcom Mickey, starring Mickey Rooney. Due to low ratings, ABC was considering canceling Mickey. The network was hesitant to cancel the series due to the popularity of Tong's character who had a solid fanbase thanks to his role in Bachelor Father. Tong's death effectively ended any chance for the series' survival and ABC canceled Mickey in December 1964.
Tong, who lived alone and never married or had children, was found dead in his Palms, Los Angeles apartment by his close friend, Ben Wong on October 24, 1964. Tong had died from an intentional barbiturate overdose. Police found an empty bottle of sleeping pills by his body and several notes addressed to his landlady, his attorney and police. In the note addressed to police, he gave no reason why he committed suicide only stating, "I have taken my own life. No one is to blame." Tong is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
In his 1991 autobiography, Life is Too Short, Tong's co-star Mickey Rooney claimed that Tong was a heavy gambler and committed suicide over money issues. According to Rooney, Tong became despondent and upset after learning that Mickey faced cancellation because he owed money to the mafia.
|1934||The Captain Hates the Sea||Sin Kee||Uncredited|
|1935||Charlie Chan in Shanghai||Waiter||Uncredited|
|1936||Love Before Breakfast||Steward||Uncredited|
|1936||The Accusing Finger||Chinese Man||Uncredited|
|1936||Happy Go Lucky||Driver||Uncredited|
|1936||Stowaway||Bing Crosby Imitator||Uncredited|
|1937||The Good Earth||Chinese Man||Uncredited|
|1937||Think Fast, Mr. Moto||Cheela - Marloff's Houseboy||Uncredited|
|1937||Youth on Parole||Chinese Orchestra Leader||Uncredited|
|1937||West of Shanghai||Messenger||Uncredited|
|1937||Daughter of Shanghai||Chinese Alien in Airplane||Uncredited|
|1939||Only Angels Have Wings||Sam the Cook||Uncredited|
|1943||China||Aide to Japanese General||Uncredited|
|1945||God Is My Co-Pilot||Chinese Civilian||Uncredited|
|1945||Out of This World||Chinese Radio Announcer||Uncredited|
|1950||Woman on the Run||Witness to Suzie's Fall||Uncredited|
|1955||The Left Hand of God||Servant||Uncredited|
|1955||Spin and Marty: The Movie||George|
|1956||Godzilla, King of the Monsters!||Dr. Yamane||Voice, Uncredited|
|1956||Flight to Hong Kong||Shop Proprietor||Uncredited|
|1957||The Iron Sheriff||Charley Key - Laundry Owner||Uncredited|
|1957||The Midnight Story||Restaurant Proprietor||Uncredited|
|1957||Man of a Thousand Faces||Chinese Extra||Uncredited|
|1957||Slaughter on Tenth Avenue||Sam, Chinese Waiter||Uncredited|
|1957||Hell Bound||Murdered Seaman||Uncredited|
|1958||Suicide Battalion||Papa Lily||Credited as Sammy Tong|
|1959||Battle Flame||Chinese Prisoner||Uncredited|
|1963||It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||Chinese Laundryman|
|1964||For Those Who Think Young||Clyde|
|1965||Fluffy||Cook||Released posthumously, (final film role)|
|1953-1954||You Are There||2 episodes|
|1955||The Adventures of Spin and Marty||George, the cook||Unknown episodes|
|1956||Judge Roy Bean||Ah Sid||Episode: "Ah Sid, Cowboy"|
|1956||The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty||Sam||Unknown episodes|
|1956||Matinee Theater||Nurseryman||Episode: "All the Trees In the Field"|
|1956||Sky King||Ipp||Episode: "Red Tentacles"|
|1956||The Man Called X||2 episodes|
|1956||Death Valley Days||Thomas Bottle||Episode: "Bill Bottle's Birthday"|
|1956||Cavalcade of America||Episode: "Diplomatic Outpost"|
|1956||My Friend Flicka||Wong||Episode: "Lost River"|
|1956||Hey, Jeannie!||Lee||Episode: "The Proprietor"|
|1957||General Electric Theater||Peter Tong||Episode: "A New Girl In His Life"|
|1959||The Californians||Quon Wei||Episode: "Gold-Tooth Charlie"|
|1959||Bonanza||Hop Ling||Episode: "A Rose for Lotta"|
|1960||Hawaiian Eye||Mr. Nishimaka||Episode: "Dead Ringer"|
|1957-1962||Bachelor Father||Peter Tong||157 episodes|
|1964||The Jack Benny Program||Maitre d' of Lotus Blosom Inn||Episode: "How Jack Found Dennis"|
|1964-1965||Mickey||Sammy Ling||17 episodes|
- "Veteran Actor Sammee Tong Found Dead". The Miami News. October 27, 1964. p. 5B. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- "Chinese Actor Finds Difficulty Playing In Chinese on TeeVee". The Daily Herald. Provo, Utah. October 26, 1959. p. 16. Retrieved August 8, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
- Witbeck, Charles (July 9, 1959). "Star John Forsythe Is Just Sammee Tong's Straight Man". The Modesto Bee. Retrieved December 26, 2012.[dead link]
- "Veteran Chinese Entertainer Found Dead; Note Revealed". Eugene Register-Guard. October 28, 1964. p. 8A. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Aoki, Guy (July 10, 2014). "INTO THE NEXT STAGE: Rediscovering Sammee Tong in 'Bachelor Father'". The Rafu Shimpo. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
- Rooney, Mickey (1991). Life Is Too Short. Villard Books. p. 266.
- Green, Paul (2015). Pete Duel: A Biography, 2d ed. McFarland. p. 41. ISBN 9781476621098.
- "Sammee Tong, Veteran Character Actor, Found Dead in Apartment". The Los Angeles Times. October 28, 1964. p. A1.
- "Samee Tong Found Dead". Reading Eagle. October 28, 1964.
- "Actor Tong Commits Suicide". The Owosso Argus-Press. October 27, 1964. p. 20. Retrieved December 26, 2012.
- Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland & Company Incorporated Pub. p. 73. ISBN 0-786-40983-5.