Ninety-seven years ago, a silent movie named The Toll of the Sea was released in the movie theatres, giving audiences their first good look at the actress Anna May Wong. This movie, which was based on Madame Butterfly and set in China, was the first leading role for Wong, an actress considered to be Hollywood's first Chinese-American movie star.
To honour her contribution to movies and her accomplishments, Google dedicated a slideshow Doodle to Wong that features her life and some of the more famous characters she portrayed in more than 50 movies she appeared in her career.
Born Wong Liu Tsong in the Chinatown in Los Angeles on January 3, 1905, she was originally from Taishan in China. She learned both English and Cantonese in her childhood and when she was not at her school or in her father's laundry, she would spend her time hanging around movie studios asking directors for roles.
However, her interest in films and persistence soon let her act as a child artist and by the age of 11, she had chosen her stage name as "Anna May Wong," according to the National Women's History Museum.
Wong dropped out of high school after she was cast as an extra in 1919 and she accepted the leading role in the 1922 movie The Toll of the Sea, for which she received positive reviews. But racial discrimination and legislation prohibiting the depiction of on-screen interracial romance kept her away from films in the USA.
In her late twenties, she moved to Europe to further her acting career. There, she went on to appear in the 1928 British-German silent drama 'Schmutziges Geld' and in the 1929 British silent film 'Picadilly. The 1930 British drama 'The Flame of Love' marked her entry into the era of talkie film.
After four years, she returned to the USA, staring in 1932 movie Shanghai Express opposite her friend Marlene Dietrich. This was one of her most notable performances. She is remembered both as a Hollywood pioneer and as a fashion icon.
In recognition of her accomplishment and contribution to the film, she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. Wong died on February 3, 1961, of a heart attack at the age of 56 years.