Victor Wong (actor born 1927)
Wong in 1983
|Born||Yee Keung Victor Wong
July 30, 1927
San Francisco, California
|Died||September 12, 2001
|Occupation||Actor, Broadcast Journalist|
|Spouse(s)||Dawn Rose (until his death)
Yee Keung Victor Wong (traditional Chinese: 黃自強; simplified Chinese: 黄自強; pinyin: Huáng Zìqiáng; Jyutping: Wong4 Zi6koeng4; 30 July 1927 – 12 September 2001) was an American character actor of Chinese descent who appeared in supporting roles throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He is widely known for his role as Chinese sorcerer Egg Shen in John Carpenter's 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China.
Victor Wong studied political science and journalism at the University of California, Berkeley and Theology at the University of Chicago under Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr and Martin Buber. When he returned to San Francisco, Wong resumed his studies at the San Francisco Art Institute under Mark Rothko.
After his news career ended, Wong turned to acting, starting in the local Asian American theatre and later landing larger roles on the stages New York City. In October 1980, Wong made his Asian American Theater Company (AATC) debut in San Francisco by appearing in their production of Paper Angels by Genny Lim. He was on Social Security Disability Insurance at the time.
His stage work led to television work and eventually, into movies. In between film roles, Wong lived in Sacramento, California, where he supported the local performing arts. In 1992, he acted in the Hong Kong film, Cageman (笼民). He later starred as the grandfather, Mori Tanaka (strangely changed to Mori Shintaro for 3 Ninjas Kick Back), in the popular 3 Ninjas franchise, and the cult-classics, Big Trouble in Little China and Tremors.
Film director Wayne Wang called Victor Wong his role model for living life.
Director Bernardo Bertolucci had trouble with Wong on the set of The Last Emperor amid arguments over historical authenticity and cut most of Wong's scenes in the film, which won the Best Picture Oscar for 1987.
He retired from acting in 1998 after suffering two strokes, which also contributed to his death on September 12, 2001 from heart failure.
Association with the Beat Generation
In the 1950s, while studying art under Mark Rothko, Victor Wong had his first art exhibition at the City Lights Bookstore. During this time, Wong befriended Lawrence Ferlinghetti. He illustrated Oranges, Dick McBride's first collection of poetry, which was handset and printed at the Bread and Wine Mission in 1960. He met Jack Kerouac in the early 1960s, who chronicled their meeting in his novel Big Sur (1962). In the novel, Wong is characterised as "Arthur Ma".
Wong's parents both came from China. His father, Sare King Wong, was born and raised in Guangdong province, and later moved to Shanghai as a news journalist; his mother was a devout Christian. His siblings were Sara Wong Lum, Zeppelin Wong, Shirley Wong Frentzel, Betty Wong. He was fluent with both English and Cantonese, which helped lead his acting career to Hong Kong. Victor Wong lived in Sacramento, California.
Wong was married four times: to Olive Thurman Wong (daughter of civil rights activist Howard Thurman), Carol Freeland, Robin Goodfellow, and Dawn Rose. He had two daughters, Emily and Heather, and three sons, Anton, Lyon, and Duncan. His son, Lyon Wong, died in 1986 after being attacked by a young man while walking home in Sacramento.
On the morning of September 11, 2001 Wong had turned on the television to watch the news when he learned of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.. He and his wife Rose spent all day watching the news and trying to discern the fate of Wong's sons, who lived in New York and, as they ultimately learned, were unharmed. Rose finally went to bed in the evening, but Wong stayed up and continued to follow the news. The resulting exhaustion and the two strokes he had suffered years earlier took their toll, and Wong died of a heart attack at some point during the morning of September 12. Wong was 74 years old.
|1985||Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart||Uncle Tam|
|Year of the Dragon||Harry Yung|
|1986||Big Trouble in Little China||Egg Shen|
|Shanghai Surprise||Ho Chong|
|Golden Child, TheThe Golden Child||The Old Man|
|1987||Last Emperor, TheThe Last Emperor||Chen Pao Shen|
|Prince of Darkness||Prof. Howard Birack|
|1989||Fatal Vacation||Grandpa||Alternative Title: An le zhan chang|
|Eat a Bowl of Tea||Wah Gay|
|Life Is Cheap...But Toilet Paper Is Expensive||Blind Man|
|1992||3 Ninjas||Grandpa Mori Tanaka|
|Cageman||Sissy||Alternative title: Long min|
|Ice Runner, TheThe Ice Runner||Fyodor|
|1993||Joy Luck Club, TheThe Joy Luck Club||Old Chong the Piano Teacher|
|1994||3 Ninjas Kick Back||Grandpa Mori Shintaro|
|1995||3 Ninjas Knuckle Up||Grandpa Mori Tanaka|
|Da mao xian jia||Uncle Nine|
|Stars Fell on Henrietta, TheThe Stars Fell on Henrietta||Henry Nakai|
|1996||Devil Takes a Holiday, TheThe Devil Takes a Holiday||Chi Chi|
|1997||Seven Years in Tibet||Chinese 'Amban'|
|1998||3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain||Grandpa Mori Tanaka|
|1975–1976||Search for Tomorrow|
|1985||Nightsongs||Fung Leung||Television film|
|1988||Beauty and the Beast||Dr. Wong||Episode: "China Moon"|
|1989||A Fine Romance||Lon Mo Wah|
|Forbidden Nights||Ho||Television film|
|Midnight Caller||Phil Wong||Episode: "Language Barrier"|
|1994||Due South||Coo||Episode: "Chinatown"|
|1996||Poltergeist: The Legacy||Lee Tzin-Soong||Episode: "Fox Spirit"|
- Chang, L: Remembering Our Merry Prankster Asian Week, 2001
- McBride, R: Oranges - Illustrated by Victor Wong (Handset and printed at the Bread & Wine Press, San Francisco by Wilder Bentley, 1960)
- Pulley, M: The last days of Victor Wong Sacramento News & Review, September 18th, 2001
- Pulley, Michael (October 18, 2001). "The last days of Victor Wong". Sacramento News & Review. Retrieved July 22, 2013.
- a "For much of the past two decades—in which he had appeared in nearly 30 Hollywood films—Wong had lived in Midtown Sacramento." — ¶ 3.
- b "Unlike most Hollywood actors, Wong eschewed the fast life and glamour of Los Angeles and continued to live humbly in his unassuming Midtown Sacramento residence where he could be close to his children. — ¶ 23.
- Michael Pulley: "The Last Days of Victor Wong" (Sacramento News & Review, October 18, 2001). Retrieved September 12, 2014 from heart failure.