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|Native name||Thùy Trang|
December 14, 1973|
Saigon, South Vietnam
(now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
|Died||September 3, 2001
near Bakersfield, California, US
|Cause of death||Automobile collision|
Thuy Trang (Vietnamese: Thuỳ Trang, December 14, 1973 – September 3, 2001) was a Vietnamese-born American actress. She was best known for her role as Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series. Trang died in a car accident on September 3, 2001, near Bakersfield, California.
Early life and education
Trang was born in Saigon, South Vietnam. Her father was a soldier in the South Vietnamese army (ARVN), and was among those tasked to protect the capital Saigon from the communist North Vietnamese army during the fall of Saigon in 1975. The communist forces overcame his battalion, which was low on ammunition and air support, during a fierce battle. He decided to return home to retrieve his family, but the route was blocked by the North Vietnamese army. Fearing for his life, he fled South Vietnam and was given political asylum by the United States. He vowed to bring his family to the United States and contacted US government officials to politically pressure the communist government of the unified Vietnam.
In 1975, when Trang was two years old, the rest of the family (Thuy, her mother, an older brother, an older sister and a younger brother) were forced to flee Saigon and in 1979 they secretly boarded a cargo ship along with hundreds of other persecuted Southern Vietnamese traveling to Hong Kong, with the ultimate aim of reaching the United States. Trang herself was very ill at the time and almost died.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, Trang's father petitioned the US government for political asylum for his family. After some time living in a Hong Kong detention camp, Trang and her family were reunited in California in 1980.Trang began to study kung fu at her father's request, around the age of nine. Her father died of cancer in 1992.
Trang graduated from Banning High School and earned a scholarship to study civil engineering at the University of California, Irvine (UCI), planning to follow her father and older siblings into engineering. However, a chance run-in with an agent in Hollywood in 1992 sparked an interest in acting and changed her plans.
Trang's agent landed her a commercial for the Church of Scientology (though Trang herself was believed to have been a Buddhist) and an acting class at UCI. Those opportunities got Trang spotted for a public service announcement on racism.
Trang landed her first major role in 1993 as Trini, the Yellow Ranger, on the original cast of the TV series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Producers later claimed that while they insisted on color diversity, the choice of an Asian as the yellow Rangers was unintentional. Trang was on the show for about one and a half seasons. She left the show, being replaced by Karan Ashley (as the Yellow Ranger, not as Trini), along with Austin St. John and Walter Emanuel Jones, with whom she became very good friends.
She played Kali, one of the lead villains, in the 1996 feature film The Crow: City of Angels. The same year, she appeared in Spy Hard (1996) as a manicurist but was incorrectly credited as a masseuse, her credit being somehow switched with Tara Leon, who played a masseuse in the same short scene.
Trang appeared in The Encyclopaedia of Martial Arts, a video documentary, alongside her Power Rangers co-star Austin St. John in 1995 as an interviewee. She made cameo appearances in Austin St John's Martial Art's Video and Walter Jones Hip Hop Dance Video. Trang planned to do an aerobics video of unknown name to go alongside them, though it is unknown what happened to it.
She was set to appear in Cyberstrike alongside Austin St. John and Walter Jones, which never entered production.
Trang died on September 3, 2001, near Bakersfield, California after a car accident. She was 27 years old. Trang and former actress/model Angela Rockwood, for whom Trang was to be a bridesmaid in her then-upcoming marriage to Dustin Nguyen, were passengers in a car traveling on Interstate 5 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. They were returning late at night from visiting Rockwood-Nguyen's maid of honor when the driver (another of the bridesmaids) lost control. The car swerved violently across the road before hitting the roadside rock face and flipping several times before hitting the safety rail and plunging over the bank. Trang died before reaching the hospital, due to the internal injuries she had sustained. Rockwood-Nguyen, who has claimed both that she was and was not wearing a seat belt in different interviews, survived after being thrown out of the vehicle through a window before its final impact; having suffered catastrophic injuries, she was rendered a quadraplegic. It is unknown whether Trang or the driver were wearing seat belts. The driver survived the accident.
Trang's body was cremated a week later on September 10. Her ashes are interred at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California. Her Power Rangers co-stars Amy Jo Johnson, Austin St. John, David Yost and Walter Emanuel Jones attended the funeral and memorial service to pay respect to their fallen co-star. Another co-star Jason David Frank was unable to attend, due to the death of his brother Eric, but nonetheless sent his condolences to Trang's family.
The episode "Circuit Unsure" of Power Rangers Time Force was dedicated to Trang's memory.
|1993–1994||Mighty Morphin Power Rangers||Trini Kwan||Lead role; 80 episodes|
|1994||Mighty Morphin Power Rangers||Trini Kwan||Video game; voice|
|1995||Encyclopedia of Martial Arts: Hollywood Celebrities||Herself||Video documentary|
|1996||The Crow: City of Angels||Kali|
- 2001 in American television
- List of people who died in road accidents
- List of Vietnamese Americans
- List of Vietnamese actors
- List of Asian Americans
- Thuy Trang profile at The New York Times website
- Watson, Elijah; Aquino, Tara (28 August 2013). "The Oral History of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers". Complex.com. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
- Nguyen, Angela (29 June 2005). Transcripts. Larry King Live. Interview with Nancy Grace (CNN).
- "Dustin's destiny". Nguoi Viet Daily News. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2009-07-30.[dead link]
- Thuy Trang memorial news report on YouTube
- Thuy Trang Tribute fan site
- Thuy Trang's Funeral on YouTube
- Thuy Trang at the Internet Movie Database