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Anna May Wong to Appear on U.S. Quarters


The iconic actress will be the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency.

Anna May Wong, largely considered the first Chinese American movie star, will make history this month when she becomes the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency. She’ll appear on quarters, as part of the U.S. Mint’s new American Women Quarters Program.

Wong, born Wong Liu Tsong in 1905 in Los Angeles, had a career that spanned movies, television, and theater; yet, as Hollywood limited the roles she could play, she eventually went abroad to perform in Europe. She died of a heart attack at age 56 in 1961.


On today’s episode of Meghan Markle’s podcast Archetypes, Margaret Cho spoke about Wong, telling Meghan, “And there was a silent film actress named Anna May Wong who was actually Chinese-American. She was born in Chinatown in Los Angeles, and she was the first Asian American movie star, at the dawn of film. And she couldn’t get any roles in America.”

Per the U.S. Mint, the quarter “features a close-up image of Anna May Wong with her head resting on her hand, surrounded by the bright lights of a marquee sign.” The flip side will still feature George Washington. You can see the mockup here:


“Anna May Wong was often photographed with her hand or hands glamorously posed near her face. With her chin resting on her hand and one finger casually directing attention to her name, this pose might suggest she has been waiting for the kind of recognition that being on a United States coin might finally bring,” designer Emma S. Damstra writes on her blog.

“She was the first Chinese American woman that we had acting in films and television,” Ventris Gibson, the director of the Mint, told Vanity Fair. “She not only was a trailblazer and a pioneer in that regard, but she just had an uncanny zealousness about the profession and what she could do to change it for Chinese Americans.” Gibson added, “she really pushed the envelope and opened up the door for many others to come in.”

Wong is the fifth quarter released this year as part of the American Women Quarters program; the others have been Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, and Nina Otero-Warren.

“Anna May Wong paved the road for Asian actors in America. We have to look back at how hard paving that road was,” Anna Wong, her niece, told Vanity Fair. “Her tenacity blows my mind. It makes me feel so proud that I’m related to her and named after her. I never want to see her legacy’s light go out. That’s my mission in life. And I think she would be absolutely astonished that the US Mint is putting her face on the quarter.”

Hopefully, Wong on the quarter will bring more attention to her storied career. In addition, Gemma Chan is set to star as Wong in an upcoming biopic, based on the biography Anna May Wong: From Laundryman’s Daughter to Hollywood Legend by Graham Russel Gao Hodges, and Anna Wong is involved as a consultant on the film.

Source : Town and Country